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V-. -V- :,'.■ 



f 



THE 

COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM HAZLITT 

IN TWELVE VOLUMES 



VOLUME ELEVEN 



All rifkii rtatntd 



All rifkU rttttwd 



THE COLLECTED WORKS OF 

WILLIAM HAZLITT 

EDITED BY A. R. WALLER 
AND ARNOLD GLOVER 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

W. E. HENLEY 



Fugitive Writing; 



1904 

LONDON: J. M. DENT <5f';C0, 

McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.: NEW YORK 



FUGITIVE WRITINGS 

S. *SttttJ^t mJ Eiityt. By Willitm Haxlitt. Now firtt eoUected by liti Sofl. 
London : JoKn Tetnplcman, Z48, Regent Street, mdcccixxix. ' An AtivertiKmcnt 
■tatei that ^Tbc volume which the Editor ha» here the graliAcation of prcaenting 
to the public, coDiiatt of Eiuyi contribnted by their author to various pcrioiiicalt. 
None of them have hitherto been publiihed in a collective form| and it it coq- 
lideotly anticipated that they will be received aa an acceptable Compaoion to the 
"Table Talk "and •• Plain Speaker.*" The contentaare ai followi: (i) Od Reading 
New Booka, (ii) On Cant and Hypocriay, (iii) Merry Eoglanti, (iv) On a Sun- 
Dial, (v) On Prejudice, (vi) Sclf-Love and Benevolence {a Dialo^e), (vii) On 
Diia^eeable People, (viii) On Knowledfe of the World, (ix) On Faihion, (1) On 
Nickname*, (xi) On Taatc, (xiij Why the Heroes of Romance are inaipid, [xiii) 
On the Converittion of Lordi, (xiv) The Letter-Betl, (xv) Envy^ (^^i) On the 
Spirit of Partiaanihipf (xvii) Footmen, and (zviii) A Chapter on Edttori. Thii 
volume wai reprinted in 1851 with 'Sketches and Essays ' at a half-title and the 
foUowixig title-page : * Men and Manners : Skctcbri and Essays. By William 
Haxlitt. London ; Published at the office of the tllustritctl London Library, 
117 Strand. MDccai.* In thia edition the csaay entitled * Self-Love and Bcnevol- 
ence (A Dialogue) ' it omitted. A third edition (which has been reprinted from 
time to time) waa published in 1S7S in Bohn's Standard Library, edited by 
Mr. W. C. Hailitt. 

3. * ff^imrtrt/tw : Eiisyt amj Charmtttn ^uriiim iktrt. By William Haxlitt. 
CoUected by his Son. London : David Bogue, Fleet Street. mi>cccl.' This 
small 8vo volume contained the following essays : (i) My First Acquaintance with 
Poets, (ii) Of Persona One Would Wish to Have Seen, (iii) Party Spirit, (iv) On the 
Feeling of Immortality in Youth, (v) On Public Opinion, (vi) On Personal 
Identity, (vii) Miod and Motive, (viii) On Means and Eodi, (ix) Matter and 
Manner, (x) On Contiiiency of Opinion, (xi) Project for a new Theory of Civil 
and Criminal Legislation, (xii) On the Character of Barke, (xiii) On the Character 
of Fox, (xiv) On the Character of Pill, (xv) Oa the Character of Lord Chatham, 
(xvi) Belief, whether Voluntary, and (xvii) A Farewell to Essay- Writing. Tbii 
volume was republished in 1B72 along with SkefcAtt and Ettaji in the volume of 
Boho's Standard Library referred to abovf. Of the essays published in H^mitrtlvw 
the Characters of Burke, Fox, Pitt and Lord Chatham arc included in vol. ill. of 
the present edition {Feiitual Eitays). The rest of the essays published in Sittcitt 
snJ Etujund ff^inferiUw are included in volt. xt. aadxii, of the present edition. 

It will be seen that Littrary Rtmaint and H^inttnlvw to tome extent overlap 
one another, and that ffittmSmf contained several eisayt which had already been 
pobliahcd in Ptiiticai Euaji. Under iheK circumstances it hat been found necessary 
in the present edition to adopt a fresh Kbeme of arrangement in place of republish- 
ing Liitrarj Jtemtiiitf SittcJtti and Bttsyi and IVtnttrtlvw at they stand. Each 
ntay, whether contained in one of those posthumous collections or now republished 
for the firit time, it printed in chronological order under the heading of the 
magatiae or newspaper in which it originally appeared \ and the magaaioca them> 
Klvet are arranged in a chronological order baKd upon the respective dates at 



VI 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



which Haslitt bcfta to contribute to them. The only eiccptioa to thii \mH 
•chcme of amnjcfnenl ii that it the cii<l of the prcient vnlume it w*i found con- 
venient to take the * Common PUcti* from TAt Lilrrary Examiner a tittle before 
thetr turn. They ihould itrictly have followed the contributioni to Tie Lihtrai 
in vol. xti^ but it trai thavght better not to liivide between two volumci the 
important emyi from TMw New MoniMly MsgoKint which now begin vol. Xll. 

Thia plan of arrangement leemed on the whole the limplctt uid beat, uid it U 
hoped that with the aid of the Tablea of Contenli and the Index the reader wtlt 
have no difficulty in finAia% any particular esaay. 

In the prnent edition all the euayi, the maptine losrce of which ia known, 
have been printed vtrhttm from the inagaiinei thcmKlvei. In prep«rio| Liursry 
JUwiMu, Sitf(k*i anj Eitrnji and tf^nttrtlvw for the preai the author'i aon took 
cosaidctafalc libcrtica with the text. In one or two caaea the alteration! which be 
ma<ie may have been baaed on a mi. or i copy of a magaiine with correction! by 
Hasltttf but far more often the cuayf were reprinted with omiaaiona and trilling 
altcntioRS made, aa it would teem, by the editor himKlf on hia own reaponiibility. 
Some pitugc* thui omitted and now rcatored for the firat time arc of great interest. 
The more important of them are ipecialty indicated in the notei. In tbc few 
caaet where the author's >oo added panages from a mi. or other authoritative lource, 
ihe paMaget have bceo given either in the text [with a note indicating where they 
oecvr], or in the Notca. 

In addition to the ctaaya printed to the text ofthla volume and to thoae referred 
CO ni the notes it may be convenient to mention here a few easayi which may have 
been written by Hazlitt but have been omitted from tbc present edition on the 
froBDd that bi» authorship is not sufficiently ccrtato. They arc arranged tn the 
following list under the beading uf the magaiine in which they first appeared. 

I. Tit Bttamimtr^ 

t. A review (Sept. 19 and Oct. i]* if 16) of George Ensor's Om tk* Stsu ^ 
Em9f« ill Janitdry, 1816. This work of George Ensor's (1769-1843)1 
*fult,' as the reviewer saya. 'of undeniable facts, and undeniable 
infereoccs from them/ was likely to appeal to Haslitt's political 
•ympathies. The review consists mainly of extracts from tbc work 
Itself, hot what there is of comment is certainly very much in 
Haxlitt's vein. 

X. 'A Modern Tory Delineated* (Oct. 6). This paper, which U ilated 
from Gloucester, Oct. t, itt6, has certainty a very strong Savour of 
Haslilt. 

3. Some political Leaders and articles which appeared at the bcgmaing of 
1S17 and are not signed with Letgh Hunt's mark. The most impor- 
Uni of these are t * Mr. Pitt — Finance, Sinking Fund ' (Jan. 19)1 
• Defence of National Debt ' (Jan. »6) ; • Progress of Finance ' (Feb. 
16) ; and * Friends of Revolution' (Feb. i]]. 
4. Some theatrical notices pobliahcd io lltlS, via. t Jaaa 19 (Ti# Rivh) \ 

TU 



FUGITIVE WRITINGS 

Aug. } and to {Cut /an Tutu) ; Oct. 19 (Kcui'i Sbylock, Figart, ud 
Mitbewa in Tit Af«y ^aeim) ; Oct. 26 (Maibme Veiirit in Tie 
Marridgt a/ FigOTQf inH Rovere the conjurer) ; Nov. z (Farreo'l Dr. 
Caotwell in TJte Ifyp*criie, Tkt fcmk/ut ^juem^ and Kean't Overreach, 
Macbeth and Othello) \ Nov. 16 {Ghj MMnrrimg and Tit Stmgtr), 

II, Tit EJimhttrgk Ma^^%int (new Serict). 

Three paperi on the criminal law, via. 1 * Hittorical View of the Progrcu 
of Opinion on the Criminal Law and the Puoilhnient of Death ' [March, 
1819, vol. IV. p. 19$) ; * Parltimcntary Report on the Criminal Lawi* 
(Dec, 1S19, vol. V. p. 491) ; and a ihort paper on the lame aubject 
(Jan. iSlo, voL vi. p. z6). Mr. W. C. Hatiitt in his VltnrMiVi, tic. 
(voL t. p. cxvi.) attribalet theie articles to Hatiitt, perhaps on the 
■treneth of some ms. or proof in his {Ktsaesaion at the date of the 
Mtmoiri (iS6^). Haxlitt's suthorahip, however, though very probable, 
does not seem to be certain, and ai the pipers consist brjely of 
extract* from a Psriismentary Report, they have been omitted fiom 
the present edition. Haclitc's views on capital punishment wit] be 
found in an extract which was first published in Frattr't M^auime in 
1831 and i« reprinted io voU xii. 

til. Tit Lcnd^ Mtga^int. 

I. Arevkwof*TheMeinoiriof Mr. Hardy Vaua*yan. i8io,VDl.[.p. !$]• 
1. 'Letters of Foote, Garrick,' etc. (Dee. iSzo, vol. ii. p. 647, and Feb. 

1811, vol. in. p. 102). 
J. A review of Byron's Marino Falter* (May, 1821, voL lit. p. $So)< 
4. A review of Byron's Sardanaf^aim (Jan. l8iz, vol. v. p. 66). 



W\ 



CONTENTS* 



On Abstract Ideas 



PAGS 

I 



FRAGMENTS OF LECTURES ON PHILOSOPHT (1812) 



On the Writings of Hobbes a 5 

On Liberty and Necessity . 48 
On Locke's Essay on the Human 

Understanding ... 74 



On Tooke's 'Diversions of 

Purley' 119 

On Self-Love -131 



CONTRIBUTIONS 10 THE MORNING CHRONICLE 



*Madarae de StaePt Account of 
Gennan Philosophy and Litera- 
ture 16a 

*The Same Subject continued 1 67 

*'rhe Same Subject continued 172 



♦The Same Subject continued (On 

Abstraction) . 1 80 

*Fine Arts. British Institution 187 

*The Stage 191 

♦Fine Arts (The Louvre) • >95 



CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CHAMPION 



♦Wilson's Landscapes at the British 

Institution .198 

♦On Gainsborough's Pictures 202 

♦Mr. Kemble's Penruddock . 205 

♦fotroduction to an Account of Sir 

Joshua Reynolds's Dis«>urses . 208 
♦On Genius and Originality . .210 
♦On the Imitation of Nature . .216 
♦On the Ideal . .223 



♦L. Buonaparte's Charlemagne : ou 

r£glise DelivT^e 
♦The Same Subject continued 
♦L. Buonaparte's Collection of 

Pictures 

♦British Institution 
♦The Same Subject continued 
♦The Same Subject continued 
♦On Mr. Wilkie's Pictures . 



a 30 
»34 

»37 
»♦» 
246 
248 
249 



1 Those essays which are now republisbeil for the first time are indicated by an asterisk. 

ix 



FUGITIVK WRITINGS 



CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EXAMINER 



PAGB 

*0n Roche foucau It's Maxims 253 
On the Predominant Principles an<l 

ExcitcmeniAofthcHumanMind * 258 
The Lore of Power or Action as 
Main a Principle in the Human 
Mind as Sensibility to Pleasure 
or Pain ' . . . .263 

Essay on Manners* . , 269 
*Kean's Bajazet, and *The Country 

Girl' 274 

•Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity 277 

•Parallel Passages in various Poets. 282 

•Mr. Locke a great Plagiarist 284 

[The Same Subject continued] . 578 

' •Shakespcar's Female Characters . 290 

♦Miss O'Neiirs Widow Cheerly . 297 

♦Penelope and The Dansomanie . 299 
♦Omonoko . .301 

♦The Pannel and The Ravens . 303 

♦John Gilpin .... joj 
•Don Giovanni and Kean's Eustace 

de St. Pierre .... 307 



♦Character of the Country People 
•Mr. Macready's Macbeth 
♦Guy Faux .... 
♦The Same Subject continued 
♦The Same Subject concluded 
Character o^ Mr, Canning . 
♦The Dandy School 
•Actors and the Public 
♦French Plays 

♦French Plays (continued) . 
•The Theatres and Paulon 

Week .... 
•Charles Kean 
•Some of the Old Actors 
•The Company at the Opera 
•The Beggar's Opera 
•The Taming of the Shrew and 

L'Avare .... 
♦Mr». Siddons 

♦The Three Quarter*, etc. . 
•Mr. Kean .... 



CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TIMES 





PAca 




raoB 


•Munden's Sir Peter Teazle . 


391 


♦She Stoops to Conquer 


- 40^ 


♦Young's Hamlet . 


J94 


♦Kean's Macberii . 


• 40+ 


♦Dowton in The Hypocrite . 


395 


♦Kean'x Othello . 


• 405 


♦Miss Brunton's Rosalind 


396 


♦Kean and Miss O'Neill 


- +07 


•Maywood's Zanga 


397 


♦The Honey Moon 


• 409 


♦Kean's Richard in. . 


399 


♦Mr. Kean . 


. 410 


•The Wonder 


401 


♦King John . 


■ 4»o 


♦Venice Prrsenred 


401 







1 These two eiiayi were publisbcd together in fyimtrUna sa * Mind and Motive.' 
3 Published in f^imtnlvta u *Mitter lad MinDcr,' 



CONTENTS 



CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE YELLOW DWARF 

tAOt. PAOS 

♦The Preti— Coleridge, Southey, *ChiIdc Harold's Pilgrimage . . 410 

Wordiworth, and Bcntham . 411 ( The Opera 426 

^Mr. Coleridge's Lectures . 416 I 

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EDINBURGH (NEW 
SCOTS) MAGAZINE 
r*c.B 
♦On the Que*tion whether Pope On NicknameB . _ 

was a Poet .... ^30 | Thoughts on Taste . 450 

*On Respectable People -433 The Same Subject continued . 454 

' On Fa&hion .437 The Same Subject continued * . 459 

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LONDON MAGAZINE 

FAOB rAOE 

*0n the Present State of Parlia- On Consistency of Opinion . . 508 

mentary Eloquence . . 464 On the Spirit of Partisanship 511 

•Haydon's 'Christ's Agony in the **The Pirate' • SJ« 

Garden' 481 •'Peveril of the Peak ' . 557 

*Pope, Lord Byron, and Mr. Bowles 48^ 

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LITERARY EXAMINER 

FAGI 

Common Places 540 

Notes 56) 

BSSATS NOT CERTAIN LT HAZLflTS, AND FRAGMENTS 

VAGB PAOB 

Character of Mr. Wordsworth's Sketches of the History of the 



^' 



New P<>em The Excursion 572 

TTie Duke D'Enghien . 577 

Coleridge's 'Christabel' . j8o 



Good Okl Times 
Historical IllunntionsofShakespeare 601 
Mr. Crabbe . .603 



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FUGITIVE WRITINGS 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



I flHALL io this essay state Mr. Locke's account of generalization, ab- 

sltactioo, and reationing, as contracted with the modern one, and thra 

endeaTour to defend the existence of these faculties, or acta of the 

mind from the objections urged against them by Hume, Berkeley, 

Condi!laCf and others, which are in truth merely repetitions of what 

Hobbes has said on the subject. I must premise, however, that I do 

not think it possible ever to arrive at a demonstration of generals or 

abstractions by beginning in Mr. Locke's method with particular 

ooes : this faculty of abstraction is by mo«t considered as a sort of 

artificial refinement upon our other ideas, as an excrescence, no ways 

cootaioed In the common impressions of things, nor scarcely necessary 

to the common purposes of life, and it is by Mr. Locke altogether 

dented to be among the faculties of bnitea. It is the ornament and 

top addition of the mind of man, which proceeding from simple 

sentatioas upwards, is gradually sublimed into the abstract notions of 

things; *from the root springs lighter tlje green stalk, from thence 

the leaves more airy, last the bright consummate flower.' On the 

other hand, I conceive that all our notions from first to last, are Btrictly 

speaking, general and abstract, not absolute and particular ; and 

that to have a perfectly distinct idea of any one individual thing, 

or concrete existence, cither as to the parts of which it is composed, 

or the differences belonging to it, or the circumstances connected with 

it, would imply an unlimited power of comprehension in the human 

mind, which is impossible. All particular things consist of, and lead 

to an infinite number of other things. Abstraction is a consequence 

of the limitation of the comprehensive faculty, and mixes itself more or 

lest with every act of the mind of whatever kind, and in every 

moment of its cxiatcoce. There is no idea of an individual object, 

which consists of a single impression, but of a number of impressions 

massed together : there is no idea of a particular quality of an object, 

which is perfectly simple, or which is not the result of a number of 

impresstoiu of the same sort classed together by the mind without 

VOL. XI. : A 1 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



attending to their particular differences. Every idea of ao object is, 
therefore, in a strict sense an imperfect and general notion of an 
aggregate : of a house, or tree, as wet) as of a city, or forest : of a grain 
of Band as well as of the universe. Every Idea of a sensible quality, 
as of the whiteness of the sheet of paper before me, or the hardness 
of the table on which I lean, implies the same power of generalization, 
of connecting several impressions into one sort, as the most refined 
and abstract idea of virtue and justice, of motion, or extension, or 
space of time, or being itself. This view of the subject is not, I con- 
fess, very obvious at first sight, and it will be more easily understood 
after I have stated the arguments of others on this difficult cjueation. 
The concise account of the nature of abstract ideas is that which Mr. 
Locke has given, as follows. 'AH things that exist being par- 
ticular, it may be perhaps thought reasonable that words which ought 
to be conformed to things should be so too, I mean in their signification : 
but yet we lind quite the contrary. The far greatest part of words 
that make all languages are general terms, which has not been the 
effect of neglect or chance, but of reason and necessity.' ' First, it is 
impossible that every particular thin;; should have a distinct peculiar 
name. For the signiScation and use of words depending on that 
connection which the mind makes between its ideas aod the sounds it 
uses as signs ol them, it is necessary in the applications of names to 
things, that the mind should have distinct ideas of the things, and retain 
also the particular name that belongs to every one, with its peculiar 
appropriation to that idea. But it is beyond the power of human 
capacity to frame and retain distinct ideas of all the particular things 
we meet with ; every bird and beast we see, every tree and plant that 
affect the senses, could not find a place in the most capacious under- 
standing. If it be looked oo as an instance of a prodigious memory, 
that some generals have liecn able to call every soldier in their army 
by his proper name, we may easily find a reason why men ncrer 
attempted to give names to each sheep in their flock, or crow that flies 
over their heads, much less to call every leaf of plants or grain of sand 
that came in their wavi by a peculiar name. Secondly, if it were 
possible, it would not serve to the chief end of language. Men would 
not in vain heap up names of particular things that would not serve 
them to communicate their thoughts. Men learn names, and use 
them in talk with others, only that they may be understood, which is 
then only done, when by use or consent, the sound I make by the 
organs of speech, excites in another man's mind who hears it, the itiea 
I apply to it in mine when I speak it. This cannot be done by names 
applied to particular things, whereof I alone have the ideas in my 
mind, the names of them could not be significant, intelligible to 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



another who was not acquainted with alt those very particular 
things which had fallen under my notice. Thirdly, grantiDg this 
featible, which I think it it not, yet a distinct name of every 
particular thing would not be of any great use for the improvement 
of knowledge ; which though founded id particular thiogs, enlarge* 
itself by general views, to which things reduced into sorts under 
general names arc properly subservient. These with the names belong- 
ing to them come within some compass, and do not multiply every 
moment beyond what either the mind can contain, or use requires, and 
therefore in these men have for the most part stopped. But yet not 
so, as to hinder themselves from distioguishing particular things by 
appropriated names, where convenience demands it. And therefore 
in their own species, which they have to do with, and wherein they 
have often occasion to mention particular ]>cr&ons, they make usr of 
proper names ; and these distinct individuals have distinct denomina- 
tions. Besides persons, countries, cities, rivers, mountains, and other 
like distinctions of place have usually found particular names, and that 
for the same reason ; and I doubt not but if we had reason to mention 
particular horses, as often as we have to mention particular men, we 
should have proper names for the one as familiarly as for the other» 
uid Bucephalus would be a word as much in use as Alexander. And 
therefore we sec amongst jockies, horses have their proper names to be 
known and distinguished by, as commonly as their servants, because 
amongst them there is often occasion to mention this or that particular 
horse, when he is out of sight. The next thing to be considered is how 
general words came to be made. For rince all things chat exist are 
only particulars, how come we by general terms, or where lind we those 
general natures they are supposed to sund for ? Words become general 
by being made the signs of general ideas, and ideas become general by 
separating from them the circumstances of time and place, and any 
other ideas that may determine them to this or that particular existence. 
By this way of abstraction they are made capable of representing more 
individuals than one, each of which having in it a conformity to that 
abnract idea is (as wo call it] of that sort. 

'But to deduce this a little more dittinctly, it will not, perhaps, be 
amiss to trace our notions and names from their beginning, and 
observe by what degrees we proceed, and by what steps we enlarge 
our ideas from their fir« infancy. There i» nothing more evident 
than that the ideas of the persons children converse with, are like the 
persons themselves, only particulars. The ideas of the nurse and the 
mother are vrell framed in the mind and like pictures of them therct 
repreientODly those individuals. The names they first give rise to are 
coaGoed to these individu;ds, and the names of nune and mamma 

3 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



which the child uies* determine themielves to those penons. After- 
wards when time and a larger acquaintance has made them observe 
thai there are a great many other thiags in the world, that in some 
common agreements of thape, and several other properties resemble 
their father and mother, s.nd those persons they have been used to, 
they frame an idea which they Hnd those many particulars do partake 
in, and to that they give witli otliers tlie name Mont for example. 
And thus they come to have a general name, and a general idea. 
Wherein they make nothing new, but only leave out of the complex 
idea they had of Peter and James, Mary and Jane, that which is 
peculiar to each, and retain what is common to them all. By the 
same way that they come by ihe genera] name and idea of man, they 
easily advance to more general names and notions. For observing that 
several things that differ from their idea of man, and therefore cannot 
be comprehended under that name, have yet certain qualities wherein 
they agree with man, by retaining only those qualities and uniting them 
into one idea, they have again another and more general idea ; to 
which having given a name, they make a term of a more comprehen- 
sive extension ; which new idea is made, not by any new addition, 
but only as. before, by leaving out the shape, and some other properties 
signified by the name man, and retaining only a body with life, sense, 
and spontaneous motion, comprehended under the name animai. That 
this is the way that men first formed general ideas and general names 
to them, I think is so evident that there needs no other proof of it, 
but the considering of a man's self or others, and the ordinary 
proceedings of their mind in knowledge : and he that thinks general 
natures or notions are anything else but ttuh ahiiractt and partial IJeat 
t^ more complex ones taken at fir jt from particular exit tenciesy will I fear 
be at a loss where to find them. For let any one reflect and then 
tell mc, wherein does his idea of man differ from that of Paul and 
Peter, or his idea of horse from that of Bucephalus, but in the leaving 
out something that is peculiar to each individual ; and retaining so 
much of those particular complex ideas of several particular existencics, 
as they are found to agree in ? Of the complex ideas signified by the 
names man and horse^ leaving out those particulars wherein they differ, 
and retaining only those wherein they agree, and of those making a 
new distinct complex idea and giving the name animal to it, one has a 
more general term that comprehends with man several other creatures. 
* Leave out of the idea of animaS sense and spontaneous motion, and 
the remaining complex idea, made up of the remaining simple ones 
of body, life, and nourishment, becomes a more general one under 
the more comprehensive word vivens. And not to dwell upon these 
panicular, so evident in itself, by the same way the mind proceeds to 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



|in^, tithtiUKe, and at Ust to ifin^, thing, and such univerui terms, 
vluch Btand for any of oar ideas whatsoever. To cooclude : this 

[ whole mysiery of genera and ipecici, which make such a noise in the 
•cfaooU, and arc with justice so little regarded out of them, is nothing 
else but abstract ideas, mote or less compreheoiiTe, with names annexed 
to theo). In all which this is constant and invariable, that every 
more general term stands for such an idea as ts but a part of any of 
those contained under it/ 

The author adds, * It is plain by what has been said, that general 
and onirersai belong not only to the real existence of things, but are 
the ioTentions and creatures of the understanding, made by it, for its 
own use, and concern only signs, whether words or ideas. Words 

I are general, when used for signs of general ideas, .ind »o arc applicable 
iiidifferently to many particular things ; and ideas are general when 
tbey are set up as the representatiTcs of many particular things, but 
unircrsality belongs not to things themselves, which are all of them 
particular in their exiRtence, even those words and ideas which in 
their significationi are general. When, therefore, we quit particulars, 
the generals that rest are only creatures of our own making, their 

^gcoenl nature being nothing but the capacity they are put in to ot 
Mgoifyiog many particulars. For the signification they have is nothing 
but a reJatioD, that by the mind of man is added to them.' See p. i $, 
vol. 2. 

Mr. LocIlc at 6rst here evidently supposes that we have ideas 
aiuwcring to general terms, i.e. certain ideas of such particulars as a 
number of things are found to agree in, or that there are some common 
qualities by retaining which and only leaving out what is peculiar and 
foreign, without adding anything new, we get at the general notion. 
He afterwards to all appearance reduces these general notions to mere 
signs or sounds with which several particular ideas are afisociated, but 
which do not correspond to any common properties or general nature 
really inhering in these particular things. In the same manner he 
continues to take different sides of the question, when he comes to 
treat of genera, and species, when his antipathy to the word etjtnce 
constantly drives him back into the notion that all our ideas of essences 
are mere terms, and the want of solidity in that opinion again as 
constantly disposes him to admit a real difference in the sorts of 
things, besides the difference of the names we give to them. For 
immediately after affirming that the abstract essences of things arc the 
workmanship of the understanding, he adds, * I would not here be 
thought to forget, much less to deny, that nature, in the production of 
things makes several of them alike : there is nothing more obvious, 
especially in the races of animals, and ail things propagated by seed. 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



But yet, I tbiok wc may say, tfae sorting of them by names is the 
workmanship of the understanding taking occasion from the similitude 
it observe! amongst them to make abstract general ideas, and set them 
up as patterns in forms (for in that sense the word form has a very 
proper signification), to which as particular things existing are found 
lo agree, so they come to be of that species, have that denomination, 
or arc put into that class. For when we say this is a man, that a 
horjCf &c. what do wc else but rank things under different specific 
names, as agreeing to those abstract ideas, of which we have made 
these names the signs? And what are the essences of those species 
set out and marked by names, but those abstract ideas in tlic mind, 
which arc as it were the bonds between particular things that exist,* 
Sec, For my own part I must confess that I agree with the Bishop 
of Worcester on this occasion, who asks, * What is it that makes 
Peter, James, and John real men ? Is it the attributing the general 
name to them ? No, certainly, but that the true and real essence of 
a man is in every one of them. They uke their denomination of being 
men from that common nature or essence which is in them.' On the 
opposite system it is not the nature of the thing which determines ihc 
imposition of the name, but the imposition of the name which deter- 
mines the nature of the thing; or giving them the nan>e makes Peter. 
James, and John men, as in the opinion of some divines bapti.im makes 
them Christians. That there is a real difference in thingb and ideas, 
aiuwcring to their general names, appears evident from this single 
observation, that if it were not so, we could never know how to apply 
these general names, and wc could no more distinguish between a man 
and a horse than we could tell at first sight, that one man's proper 
name was .lohn and another's Thomas. The puzzle about genera 
and species, in this view of the question, seems to arise from a very 
obvious transposition of ideas. Because the abstracting or separating 
these general ideas from particular circumstances is the workmanship 
of the understanding : it has, therefore, been inferred, that the ideas 
themselves are so too, and that they exist no where but in the mind 
which perceives ihcm. 

But I would fain ask, in the account which Mr. Locke gives of 
the abstract ideas of tinimu/ for example, whether body, sense, and 
motion, as they exist in dilTerent individuals, have not a general nature, 
or something common in all those individuals. If IrotJy in one case 
expresses the same thing, or same idea as body in another, their 
generals belong to things and ideas, as well as to names ; if body in 
one case expresses c]uitc a different thing in one to wliat it docs in 
another, then tt is not easy to imagine what determines the mind to 
apply the name to these different ibing", or on what foundation 

6 



4 

^ 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 

Mr. Locke's defioition rents. Extreme opinions were not in general 
the ride on which Mr. Locke erred ; and, on the present occanon, 
he has qualified his opposition to the prevailing systctn in such a 
manner, that it is difficult to say in what point he admitted or rejected 
it. He evidently, in the general scope of this argument, admits the 
reality of abstract ideas in the mind, though he denies the existence 
of real sorts, or nature of things of the mind to correspond to them : 
for the expressions which intimate any doubt of the former are 
occasional and parenthetical, and his acknowledgment that there is 
something in nature which guides and determines the mind io the 
torting of things and giving names to them is equally extorted from 
him. There is none of this doubt and |)erp!cxity in the minds of his 
French commentators; none of this suspicion of error and anxious 
desire to correct it ; do lurking objections arise to stagger their 
confidence in themselves ; it is all the same light airy self-complacency ; 
Dot a speck is to be seen in the clear sky of their metaphysics, not a 
cloud obscures the sparkling current of their thoughts. In the logic 
rOf Condillac, the whole question of abstract ideas, of genera and 
L species, and of the nature of reasoning as founded upon them, is settled 
and cleared from all difficuUies, past, present, and to come, with as 
liule expence of thought, time, and trouble, as possible. The Abbu 
demonstrates with case. ' General ideas,' he says, * of which wc have 
explained the formation, are a part of the aggregate idea of each of 
the individuals to which they correspond, and they are considered, 
for ibis reason, as so many partial or imperfect ideas. The idea of 
man, for instance, makes part of the complex ideas of Peter and Paul, 
since it is equally to be found in both. There is no such thing as 
man in general. This partial idea has then no reality out of the 
mind, but it has one in the mind, where it exists separately from the 
aggregate or individual ideas of which it is a part. All our general 
ideas arc then so many abstract ideas, and you see that we form chcra 
only in consequence of taking from each individual idea that which' 
is common to all. 

*But what, io truth, is the reality which a general and abstract idea 
has in the mind. It is nothing but a name: or, if it is any thing 
more, it necessarily ceases to be abstract, and general. When, for 
example, I think of a man, I consider this word as a common 
denomination, in which case, it is very evident, that my idea is in 
lome sort circumscribed within this name, ihac it docs not extend to 
anything beyond it, and that consequently it is nothing but ilie name 
itself. If, on the contrary, thinking of man in general, I contemplate 
any thing in this word, brides the mere denomination, it can only be 
by representing myself to some one man; and a man can no more be 

7 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



nun in tfcncrali or in the abstract in my mind, than io nature. 
Abntmct lUeu iire therefore only denominations. If we will absolutely 
think chat they are something cite, we sliall only resemble a painter 
who should obstinately pcrtist in painting the figure of a man In 
general, and who would still [>aint only individuals. This observation 
concerning abstrnct and general ideas, demonstrates that their clearness 
depends entirely on the order in which we have arranged the dcnomi- 
Dalions of classes; and that, consequently, to determine this sort of 
ideas, there is only one means, which is to construct a language 
properly. 

'Thia confirms wluit we have already deraonBtrated, how necessary 
words are to us : for if we had no general terms, we should have no 
iibstract ideas, we ehouid have neither genera^ or tpecieiy and without 
genera and ipcc'utt we could reason upon nothing. But if we reasoo 
only by means of words this is a new proof that we can only reason 
well or iU, according as the language, in which we reason, is well or 
ill made. The analysis of our thoughts can only enable us to reason 
in proportion as by instructing us how to class our abstract ideas, it 
enables us how to form our language correctly, and the whole art of 
reasoning is thus reduced to the art of well speaking.' 

What in this supremacy of words is to be tlic criterion of well 
speaking the Abbe does not say. 

* To speak, to reason, to form general or abstract ideas, are then in 
fact the same thing: and this truth, simple as it is, might pass for a 
discovery. Certainly, men in general have not had any oodon of it } 
this is evident from the manner in which they speak and reason ; it is 
evident from the abuse which they make of abstract ideas ; finally, it 
is evident from the difficulties which those persons confessedly find 
io conceiving of abstract ideas who have so little in speaking of 
them. 

' The art of reasoning resolves into the construction of tangoages, 
only because the order of our ideas itself depends entirely on the 
subordination that subsists between the names given to gtntra and 
tpfcifs; and as we arrive at new ideas only by forming new classes, it 
follows that we can only determine or define our ideas by determining 
their clashes. In this case we should reason well, because we should 
be guided by analogy in our conclusions as well as in the acceptation 
of words. 

■Convinced, therefore, that classes or sorts of things are pure 
denominations, we shall never think of supposing that there exist in 
nature genera or specut^ and wc shall understand by these words 
nothing but a certain mode of classing things according to the relations 
which they have to ourselves and to one another. We shall be 

B 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



ible that w« can only diKOvcr tboiw rdatioDs, aod oo( what the 
tiiingt truly arc.* 

Berkeley handled his subjects with little tendernefls, and he has 
perfectly anatomised this subject of abstract ideas. In choosiDg to 
answer the objections to thii doctrine as stated by him, I shall not 
be accused of wishing to encounter a mean adrersary. I can ooJy 
truit to the goodness of my cause. I hope I shall be excused for 
going at some length into the argument, because it it one of the most 
difficult and complicated in iL<;elf, and is of the most extensive applica- 
ttoQ to other questions relating to the human understanding. If we 
can come to any tatiiiactory issue to it, it will be worth the pains of 
enquiry. 

* It is agreed on all hands,' says this author, 'that the quantities or 
modes of things do ncrer really exist in each of thern, apart by itself, 
aod separated from all others, but arc mixed, as it were, and blended 
together, screral in the 5ame object. But we arc told the mind being 
able to consider each quality singly, or abstracted from those other 
qualities with which it is united, does by that means frame to itself 
ib»uact ideas. For example, there is perceived by sight, an object, 
eztCDded, coloured, and moved. This mixed idea the mind resolving 
into its simple constituent parts, and viewing each by itself exclusive 
of the rest, does frame the abstract ideas of extension, colour, aod 
motion. Not that it is possible for colour or motion to exist without 
exsamoD, but only that the mind can frame to itself by abstraction 
the idea of colour, exclusive of extension, and of motion exclusive 
both of colour and extension. Again, the mind having observed that 
in the particular extensions perceived by sense, there is something 
common aod alike in all, ana some other things peculiar, as this or 
that figure, or magnitude, which distinguish them one from another, it 
cotuiden apart, or singles out by itself that which is most common, 
making thereof a most abstract idea of extension, line, surface, or 
■olid, nor has any tlgure or magnitude, but is an idea prescinded from 
all these. So likewise the mind by leaving out of the particular 
colours perceived by sense, that which dintinguiahcs them one from 
another, and retaining that which only is common to all, makes an 
idea of colour in abstract, which is neither red, nor blue, not white, 
Sec. And in like manner by considering motion abstractedly, i»)t 
only the body moved, but likewise from the figure it describes, and 
all particular directions aod velocities, the abstract idea of motion it 
framed, which equally corresponds to all particular motions whatso- 
ever that may be perceived by Bense. 

'Afid as the roind frames to itself abstract ideas of qualities, or 
nodcSy so docs it by the precision or mental separation, attain abstract 




ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 

ideas of the more compound bcingSj which include veieral co-existent 
qualities: — for example, the mind having observed, that Peter, James, 
John, &c., resemble each other in certain common agreements of 
shape, and other qualities, leaves out of the complex or compounded 
idea it has of Peter, James, &c., that which is peculiar to each, retain- 
ing only what is common to all { and so makes an abstract idea 
wherein the particulars equally parukc, abstracting entirely, and 
cutting off all those circumstances and differences which might deter- 
mine it, to any particular existence. And after this manner it is said, 
we come by the abstract idea of man, or if you please humanity, or 
human nature ; 'tis true, there iti included colour, because there is 
no man but has some colour, but then it can be neither white nor 
black, nor any particular colour, because there is no one piu-ticular 
colour, wherein all men partake ; so there is included stature, but then 
it is neither tall stature, nor low stature, nor yet middle stature, but 
something abstracted from all these ; and so of the rest. Moreover, 
there being a great variety of other creatures that partake in some 
parts, not all, of the complex idc-a, man, the mind leaving out those 
parts which are peculiar to men, and retaining those only which are 
common to all living creatures, frames the idea of animals, which 
abstracts not only from all particular men, but also, all birds, beasts, 
fishes, and insects. By Body is meant body without any particular 
shape, or figure, there being no one shape or figure common to all 
animals, without covering of hair, feathers, or scales, &c. nor yet 
naked ; hair, feathers, scales, and nakedness, being the distinguishing 
properties of particular animals, and for that reaRon left out of the 
abstract idea ; upon the same account the spontaneous motion must be 
neither in walking, nor flying, nor creeping, it ts nevertheless a motion, 
but what that motion is, it is not easy to conceive.* 

• Whether others have this wonderful faculty of abstracting their 
ideas, they best can tell : for myself I dare be confident I have it not. 
I have a faculty of imagining or representing to myself the ideas of 
those porticular things I have perceived, and of variously compound- 
ing and dividing them, I can imagine a man with two heads or the 
upper prt of a man joined to the body of a horse ; I can consider 
the hand, the eye, the nose, each by itself, abstracted or separated 
from the rest of the body. But then, whatever hand or eye, I 
imagine, it must have some particular shape, and colour. Likewise, 
the idea of man that I frame to myself must be either of a white, or 
a black, or a tawny ; a strait, or a crooked ; a tall, or a low, or a 
middle sized man. I cannot by any effon of thought conceive the 
abstract idea above-described : and it is equally impossible for me to 
form the abstract idea of motion distinct from the body moving, and 

to 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



^ 



which u neither swift nor slow, currilinear nor rectilinear, and the 
like n»y be said of other abstract general ideas whatsoever ; to be 
plain, I own myself able to abstract in one sense, as when I consider 
some pirticular parts or qualities separated from others, Mrith which, 
though they are united in some ohjecis, yet it is possible they may 
really exist without them. But I deny that I can abstract from one 
another, or conceive eeparaiely those (jualittes, which it is impossible 
should exist so separated : — or that 1 can frame a general notion by 
abstracting from particulars in the manner aforesaid, which two last 
are the proper acceptation of abstraction : and there is ground to think 
most men will acknowledge themselves to be in my case. 

*The generality of men, which are «tmple and illiterate, never pre- 
tend to abstract notions. It is said they are difficult and not to be 
attained without pains and study ; we may therefore reasonably con- 
clude that, if such tliere be, they are confined only to the learned. I 
proceed to examine what can be alleged in defence of the doctrine of 
ab«traction, and try if I can discover what it is that inclines the man 
of speculation to embrace an opinion so remote from common sense 
as that seems to be. There has been n late excellent and deservedly 
eaicen>ed philosopher, who no doubt has given it very much, by seenv 
iog to think the having abstract general ideas is what puts the differ- 
eoce in point of understanding betwixt man and beast.' 

The author here quotes a pasDage from Mr. Locke on the subject, 
which it ii not necessary to give, and afterwards hii; opinion that 
words become general by being made signs of general ideas. He 
then proceeds : — • To tJiis I cannot assent, being of opinion that a word 
becomes generaJ by being made the sign, not of an abstract general 
idea, but of several particular ideas, any one of which it indifferently 
tuggests to the mind.' 

* If ve will annex a roeaoing to our words and speak only of what 
vr can only conceive, I believe we shall acknowlragc that an idea, 
which considered in itself is particular, becomes general, by being 
nude to represent or stand for all other particular ideas fif lie tame 
sari. To make this plain by example, suppose a geometrician is 
demonstrating tlie metliod of cutting a line in two equal parts. He 
drav» for instance a black line of an inch in length : this which is in 
itself a particular line, is nevertheless, with regard to its signification, 
general, since, as it is there used, it represents all particular lines 
whatsoever, so that what is demonstrated of it is demonstrated of all 
lines, or in other words of a line in general ; and, as that particular 
line becomes general, by being made a sign, so the name /mr, which 
taken absolutely, is particular, by being a sign, is made general. And 
u the former owes its generality not to its being the sign of an abstract 

|] 




ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



or geocfal line, but of all particular right Iidw diat may possibly 
exist, so the Utter mast be thought to derive its generality from the 
same cauie^ oamely^ the various particular lines which it iDdifTereDtly 
denotes. ' 

• To give the reader a clearer view of the nature of abstract ideas, 
and the uses they are thought necessary to, I shall add one more 
passage out of the Essay on Human Understanding, which is as 
follows: — "Abstract ideas arc not so obvious or easy to children, or 
the yet unexercised mind as particular ones. If they seem so to 
grown men, it is only by constant and familiar use they are made so. 
For when wc nicely reflect upon them, wc shall £od that general 
ideas arc fictiooR and contrivances of the mind, that carry difficulty 
with them, and do not so easily offer themselves as we are apt to 
imagine. For example, does it not require (K)me skill and pains to 
form the general idea of a triangle (which is yet none of the abstract, 
compreheasive, and diflicult), for it must be neither oblique nor 
rectangle, neither equilateral, equicrural, nor scalenon, but all and none 
of these at once. In effect it is something imjierfect that cannot exist, 
an idea wherein some parts of different and inconsistent ideas are put 
together. 'Tis true the mind in this imperfect state has need of such 
ideas, and makes all the haste it can to them, for the convenience of 
communication and enlargement of knowledge, to both of which it is 
naturally very much inclined. But yet one has reason to suspect such 
ideas arc marks of oar im perfections, at least this ia enough to show 
Lhat the most absuact and general ideas arc not those that the mind is 
first and most easily acquainted with, nor such as its earliest know- 
ledge is conversant about." ' — After laughing at this description of the 
general idea of a triangle, which is neither oblique nor rectangle, 
equilateral, equicrural, nor itcalenon, but all and none of these at once, 
Berkeley adds, * much is here said of the difficulty that abstract ideas 
carry with them, and the pains and ekill requisite to the forming of 
them. Ajid it is on ail hands agreed that there is need of great toil 
and labour of mind, to emancipate our thoughts from particular 
objects, and raise them to tho-ie sublime speculations that are con^j 
vcrsant about abstract ideas. From all which the natural consequences 
should seem to be, that so difficult a thing as forming abstract ideas 
wa» not necessary for communication, which is so familiar to all sorts 
of men. But, we are told, if they seem obvious and easy to grown 
men, it is only because by constant and familiar use they are made so. 
Now I would fain know at what time it is, men arc employed in sur- 
mounting that difficulty and furnishing themselves with those necespary 
helps for discourse. It cannot be when they are grown up, for then 
it scenii ihey are not conscious of any such painstaking ; it therefore 

12 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



ain* to be the businese of their childhood. And turely the great 
and mahiplicd labour of fmmiDg abstnict notions witl be found a hard 
tatk for that tender age. Is it not a hard thing to imagine that a 
couple of children cannot prate of their sugar plums, and rattles, and 
the re«c of their little trinketi, till they have 6rfit packed together 
Dumbcrless inconsistencies, and so framed in their roindi general 
abitract ideas, and annexed them to every common name they make 
use of. 

* It is I know a point much insisted on that all knowledge and 
demonstration are about universal notions, to which I fully assent. 
But then it does not appear to me that iho*e notions are formed by 
abttraction, in the manner premised ; universality, so far as I can 
ccunpreheod, not consisting in the absolute, positive nature and coik- 
ception of any thing, but in the relation it bears to the particulars 
signified, or represented by it. But here it will be demanded, how 
we can know any proposition to be true of all particular trianglei, 
except we have seen it first demonstrated of the abstract idea of a 
triangle which equally agrees to all ? 

* For because a property may be demonstrated to agree to some 
particular triangle, it will not thence follow that it equally belongs to 
every other with it. For example, having demonstrated that the 
three angles of an isosceles, rectangular triangle, are equal to two 
right ooc«, I cannot therefore conclude this affection argues to all 
other trianglet, which have neither a right angle, nor two equal sides. 
It seems, therefore, that to be certain this proposition is universally 
true we must either make a particular demonstration for every par- 
tkular triangle, which is impossible, or once for all demonstrate it of 
the abitract idea of a triangle, in which all the particulars do indiffer- 
ently partake, and by which they arc all equally represented.' To 
which I answer, that though the idea I have in view, whilst I make 
the demonstration, be, for instance, that of an isosceles, not a regular 
triangle, whose sides arc of a determinate length, I may nevertheless 
be certain it extends to all other rectilinear triangles of what sort or 
bigness soever. And that neither because the right angle, nor the 
equality, nor determinate length of the sides are at all concerned in 
the demonstration. It is true, the diagram I have in view includes 
all these particulars, but then there is not the least mention made of 
them in the proofs of the proposition. It is not said the three angles 
are equal to two right ones, because one of these is a right angle, or 
because the sides comprehending it arc of the same length. Which 
lolScieatty shews that the right angle might have been oblique and 
the sides uneqoal, and for all the others the demonstrations have held 
good. And for this reason it is that I conclude that to be true ot 

«3 



ON ABSTRACT ID£AS 

any obUque angular, or tcaleoon, which I had denx>ostrated of a |»r-< 
dcular right angled, et^oicnirai, triaogle, and not because I dexDoa-l 
itraied cbe propositioo of the abctraa idea of a triangle.' The author 
then adds some further remarki on the use of abstract terms, and con- 
clodea — • May we not, for example, be alfected with the promise of 
a good ihing, though we hare not an idea of what it is ? or is not the 
being threatened with danger sufficient to excite a dread, though we 
think not of a {>articular eril likely to bcfal us, and yet frame to our- 
selves an idea of danger in abstract f Introductioo to Principles of 
HunuD Knowledge, p- Ji* 

Hume, who has taken up Berkeley's arguments on this subject^ . 
and atfinms that the doctrine of abstract ideas applies the flattest of all I 
contradictions, thai it is oossible for the same thing to be and not to I 
be, has enlarged a good deal on this last topic of the manner in which j 
words may be supposed to excite general ideas. His words are these: 
* Where we hare found a resemblance between any two objects that 
often occur to us, we apply the same name to all of them, whatever 
ditfercoces we nuy observe in tlie degrees of their quantity and 
quality, and whatever differences may appear among them. After 
we have acquired a custom of this kind, the hearing of that name 
revives the idea of one of these objects, and makes the imagination 
conceive it with its particular circumstances and proportions. But as 
the same word is supposed to have been frequently applied to other 
individuals that are diifcrmt in many respects from the idea which is 
immediately present lo the mind, the word not being able to revive 
the idea of all these individuals, only towbet the sou), if I may be 
allowed so to speak, and revives that custom, which we have acquired 
by surveying them. They are not in reality present to the mind, but 
only in power, nor do we draw them out distinctly in the imagination, | 
but keep ourselves in readiness to surrey any of them, as we may be ' 
prompted by a present design or necessity. The word raises up an 
tiHlividu.nl idea, along with a certain custom ; and that custom pro- 
duces any other individual one, for which we may have occasion.' 
'rrraiise of Human Nature, p, 43, 4. The author afterwards adds, 
with hi* usual candour, that this account docs not perfectly satisfy 
hinit but he relies princitially on the logical demonstration of the 
inuKiisibiliiicH of absttnct ideas just before given. 

I ionff hi" il ilues nni seem an easy matter to recover the argument 
in this mate of it i however, I will attempt it. What I shall 
endeavour will not be so much to answer the foregoing reasoning as 
10 prove that in a strict lentc all ideas whatever are mere abstractions 
nikl can Iw nothing elset that some of the most clear, distinct, and 
|H>fli(ive itlcni of jiarticular objects are made np of numberless incon- 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 

ststencin; and that u Hume expressei it, they do touch the soul, 
and arc not drawn distinctly in the imagination, &c. Though 1 shall 
not be able to point out distinctly the fallacy of the foregoing reasoD- 
iitgBy I hope to make it appear that there must be something wrong in 
the premises, and that the nature of thought and ideas is quite difTereot 
from what is here supposed, I may be allowed to set off one paradox 
against another, and as these writers affirm that all abstract ideas are 
particular images, so 1 shall try to prove that all particular images arc 
abstract ideas. If it can be made to appear that our ideas of par- 
ticular things themselves are not particular, it may be easily granted 
that those which are in general allowed lo be ab&iract arc ail so, The 
existence of abstract and complex ideas in the mind has been disputed 
for the same reason, that is, in falsely attributing individuality, or 
absolute imity to the objects of sense. While each thing or object 
was said to be absolutely one and simple, there was found to be no 
reach, compass, or expansion of mind, to comprehend it ; and, on the 
other hand, there was no room on the same supposition for the doc- 
trine of abstraction, for there is no abstracting from absolute unity. 
That which is one positive, indivisible thing, must remain entire at 
this, or cease to cxisu There is no alternative between individuality 
and nothing. As long as we are determined to con»)dcr any one 
thing or idea, as the knot of a chain, or the figure of a man, or any 
thing else, as one individual, it must, as it were, go together : wc can 
take nothing away without destroying it altogether. I have already 
thcwn that there is no one object which docs not consist of a number 
of parts and relations, or which docs not rc<]uirc a compreheoBive 
facility in the mind in order to conceive of it. Now abstraction is a 
necessary consequence of the limitation of thia power of the mind, 
and if it were a previous condition of our having the ideas of things 
that we should comprehcod distinctly all the particulars of which 
they are composed, we could have no ideas at all. An imperfectly 
comprehended is a general idea. But the mind perfectly comprehends 
the whole of no one object. That is, it has not an absolute and 
distinct knowledge of all its parts or differences, and consequently all 
our ideas are abstract ionc, that is a general and confused result from 
1 number of undiuinguished, and undistinguishable impressions, for 
there is no possible medium between a perfectly distinct comprchen- 
Qon of all the particulars, which is impossible, or that imperfect and 
confused one, that properly constitutes a general notion in the one 
case ur the other. To explain this more particularly. In looking 
at any object, as a house on the opposite side of the way, it is sup- 
posed that the impression I have of it is a ])erfectly distinct, precise, 
or definite idea, id which abstraction has no concern. And the 

»5 




ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



genera) idea of a house, it is said, is rather a mere wordi or must 

reduce itself to some such positivr* indiridual image as that conveyed 
by the sight of a particular house, it being impossible that it should 
be made up of the confused, imperfect, and uodistjoguishable impre>- 
sioQS of several different objects of the same kind. Now it appears 
to mc the easiest thing in the world to shew that this sensible image 
of a particular house, into which the gencfal is to be resolved for 
greater clearness, is itself but a confused and vague notion, or num- 
berless iaconnistencies packed together ; not one precise individual 
thing, or any number of things, distinctly perceived. For I would 
ask of any one who thinks his senses furnish him with these infallible 
and perfect conceptions of things, free from all contradiction and per- 
plexity, whether he has a precise knowledge of all the circumstance 
of the object prescribed to him. For instance, is the knowledge 
which he has that the house before him is larger than another near it, 
in consequence of his iotentively considering alt the bricks uf which 
it is composed, or can he tell that it contains a greater number of 
windows than another, without distinctly counting them ? Let us 
suppose, however, that he does. But this will not be enough unless 
he has also a distinct perception of the numbers and the size of the 
panes of glass in each window, or of any mark, stain, or dirt in each 
separate brick i Otherwise his idea of each of these particulars will 
still be general, and his most substantial knowledge built on shadows ; 
that is composed of a number of pans of the parts of which he has no 
knowledge. If objects were what mankind in general suppose them, 
single things, we could have no notion of them but what was par- 
ticular, for by leaving out any thing we should leave out the whole 
object, whidi is but one thing. We may also be said to have a 
particular knowledge of things in proportion to the number of parts 
we distinguish in them. But the real foundation of all our knowledgci 
is and must be general, that is, a mere confused impression or effect of 
feeling produced by a number of things, for there is no object which 
does not consist of an infinite number of parts, and we have not an 
inlinite numl>er of distinct ideas answering to them. Yet it cannot 
be denied that we have some knowledge of things, that they make 
some impression on us, and this knowledge, this impression, must 
therefore be an abstract one, the natural result of a limited under- 
standing, which is variously affected by a number of things at the 
same time, but which is not susceptible of itself to an infinite number 
of modifications. If it should be said that the sensible image of the 
house is still one, as being one impression, or given result, I answer 
that the most abstract ideas of a bouse, and the imperfect recollection 
of a number of houses is in the same sense one, and a real idea, 
i6 



I 
I 





sing a particular image. 
AgaiOf it is said, that in conceiving of the idea of- man in general, we 
most conceive a man a particular sign or fij^urc. I would ask Brst is 
this to be utidcrstood merely of his height, or of his form in general ? 
If the latter, it would imply that we have, wherever we pronounce 
the word many no ideas at all, or a distinct conception of a man with 
a head and limbs of a certain extent and proportion, of every turn in 
each feature, of ercry variety in the formation of each part, as well ac 
of its disuncc from every other part, a knowledge which no sculptor 
or painter ever had of any one figure of which he was the moat 
perfect master, for it would be a knowledge of an infinite number of 
lines drawn in all directions tirom every part of the body, with their 
precise length and terminations. Those who have consigned this 
business of abstraction over to the senses with a view to make the 
whole matter plain and easy, have not been aware of what they have 
been doing. They supposed with the vulgar that it was only necessary 
to open the eyes in order to see, and that the images produced by 
outward objects are completely defined, and unalterable things, in 
which there can be no dimness and confusion. These speculators 
had DO thought but th(^ saw as much of a landscape as Poussin, and 
knew as much about a face that was before them as Titian or Vandyke 
would have done. This Is a great mistake; the having particular 
xod absolute ideas of things is not only difficult, but impossible. The 
ablest painters have never been able to give more than one part of 
nature, in abstracted views of things. The most latiorious artists 
never finished to perfection any one part of an object, or had ever any 
more than a confused, vague, unccruin notion of the shape of the 
mouth or nose, or the colour of an eye. Ask a logician, or any 
common man, and he will no doubt tetl you that a face ii a face, a 
nose is a nose, a tree is a tree, and that he can see what it is as well 
as another. Ask a painter and he will tell you otherwise. Secondly, 
when it is asserted that we must necessarily have the idea of a 

E'cular sign, when we think of any in general, all that is intended 
; is, I believe, that we must think of a particular height. This 
it is supposed must be particular and determinate, just as wc 
mu«t draw a line with a piece of chalk, or make a mark with the 
slides of a measuring rule, in one place and not in the other. I think 
h may be shewn that this view of the question is also utterly fallacious, 
and out of the order of our ideas. The height of the individual is 
thus resolved with the ideas of the lines terminating or defining it, 
and the intermediate space of which it properly consists is entirely 
iorgocten. For let us take any given height of a man, whether tall, 
shcMty or middle^ized, and let that height be as visible as you please, 
VOL. XI. : B 17 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



I would ask whether the actual height to which it amounts^ does not 
consist of a number of other lengths : as if it be a tall man, the 
length will be six feet, and each of these feet will consist of so many 
inches, and those inches will be again made up of decimals, and tbo»c 
decimals of other subordinate parts, which must be all distinctly 
placed, and added together before the sum toul, which they coinposCf 
can be pretended to be a distinct particular, or individual idea ; I can 
only understand by a particular thing either one precise individual, or 
a precise number of indiTiduale. 

Instead of its being true that all general ideas of extension are 
deducible to (mrticular positive extension, the reverse propOBition is 
I think, demonstrable: that alt particular extensions, the most positive 
and distinct, are never any thing else than a more or less vague notion 
of extension in general. In any given visible object we have always 
the general idea of something extended, and never of the precise 
length ; for the precise length as it is thought to be is necessarily 
composed of a number of lengths too many, and too minute to be 
necessarily attended to, or jointly conceived by the mind, and at last 
loKS itself in the infinite divisibility of matter. What sort of dis- 
tinctness or individual can therefore be found in any visible image, or 
object of sense, I cannot well conceive : it seems to me like seeking 
for certainty in the dancing of insects in tlie evening sun, or for 
fixedness or rest in the motions of the sea. All particulars are 
thought nothing but generals, more or less defined by circumstances, 
but never perfectly so; in this all our knowledge both begins and 
ends, and if we think to exclude all generality from our ideas of 
things, we must be content to remain in utter ignorance. The proof 
that our ideas of particular things arc not themselves particular, is the 
uncertainty and difficulty we have only in comparing them with one 
another. In looking at a line an inch long, 1 have a certain general 
impression of it, so that I can tell it is shorter than another, three or 
four times as long, drawn on the same sheet of paper, but I cannot 
inunediately tell that it is shorter than one only a tenth or twentieth 
of an inch longer. The idea which I have of it is therefore not an 
exact one. In looking at a window I cannot precisely tell the 
number of panes of glass it contains, yet I can easily say whether they 
are few or many, whether the window is large or small. Now if all 
our ideas were made up of particulars, we never could pronounce 
generally whether there were few or many of these panes of glass, 
but we should know the precise number, or at least pitch on some 
precise number in our minds, and this we could nut help knowing. 
There must be cither 5, 10, ao, or 30; for it is in vain to urge that 
the idea in my mind is a floating one, and shifts from one of them to 
18 



I 
■ 



I 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



another, no that I cannot tcit the moment after which it was ; but 
what ti this imperfect recollectian but a confused contradictory and 
abstract idea? Here is a plain dilemma : it ik a fact that we have 
some idea of a number of oojccts presented to us. It is also a fact 
that we do out know the precise number, nor can we assign any 
number confidently whether right or wrong. Whether this idea is 
but an abstract and general one it seems hard to say. Those who 
contend that we cannot hare an idea of a man in general, without 
conceiving of some particular man» seem to have little reason, since 
the most particular idea we can form of a man, cither in imagination 
or from the actual impression, is but a general idea. Those who say 
wc cannot conceive of an army of men without conceiving of the 
individuals composing it, ought to go a step further, and affirm that 
we must represent to ourselves the features, form, complexion, size, 
posture, and dress, with every other circumstance belonging to each 
individual. 

Wr must admit the notion of abstraction, first or last, imless any 
one will contend for this infinite refinement in our ideas of things, or 
assert that we have no idea at all. For the same process takes place 
in it, and is absolutely necessary to our most particular notions of 
things, as wcU as our most general, namely, that of abstracting from 
particulars, or of passing over the minute differences of things, taking 
them in the gross, and attending to the general effect of a number of 
distinguished and distinguishable impressions. It is thus we arrive at 
our first notion of things, and thus that all our after knowledge is 
acquired. The knowledge upon which our ideas rest is general, and 
the only difference between abstract and particular, is that of being 
more or less general, of leaving out more or fewer circumstances, and 
more or fewer objects, perceived either at once or in succession, and 
forming cither a panicular whole, aggregate, or a class of things. 
It may be asked farther whether our ideas of things, however 
abstract in general, with respect to the objects they represent, are not 
in their own nature, and al^olute existence particular. To this hard 
question I shall return the best answer I can. 

I. It is suihcicnt to the present purpose ttiat ideas are genera) in 
their represeoution, however particular in themseUes. Liach idea is 
something to itself, and not another idea. This is equally true of the 
rao«t abstract or particular ideas of things. The abstract idea of a 
tnan is the abstract idea of a man, not the abstract idea of a horse, 
oor the particular one of any given individual man. It is characterized 
by general properties, and distinguished by general circumstances, and 
is neither a mere word without any idea, nor a particular image of 
one thing ; so the idea of a particular man, though still only a general 

«9 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



result from a number of particulars is sufficiently positive for the 
actual purpoees of thought, and distioguishablc from that other general 
result or imprcuioa which institutes the idea of a particular horse, for 
instaocc. 

2. That our general nottona are any otherwise particular than a« 
they are the same with themselves, and different from one another, ie 
mote than I know. I must demur on this question, whatever others 
may do. Whatever contradictions are involved in the one side of it, 
those on the other seem at great. For it is not easy to imagine any 
thing more absurd than the supposition that the idea of a line for 
instance is precisely, and to a hair's breadth or to the utmost possible 
exactness, of a certain length, when neither the precise number nor 
the precise proportion of the parts composing this line are at all 
known. It is like saying that we cast up an account to the utmon 
degree of nicety, when not one of the items is known, but as of an 
average coDJeccurc or in round numbers. We generally estimate oui 
notion of a particular extension by the point or matter at all terminating 
it, and it seems as if this did not admit of an ambiguity, or variation. 
But in fact all ideas are a calculation of particulars, and when the 
parts arc only known in gross, tlic sum total, or resulting idea can 
only be so too. The smallest division of which our nations are 
susceptible is a general idea. In the progress of the understandings 
wc never begin from absolute unity but always from something that 
IS more. How then is it possible that these general conceptions 
should form a whole always commensurate to a precise number of 
absolute unity I cannot conceive, any more than how it is possible to 
express a fraction in whole numbers. The two things are incom- 
patible. As to any thing like conscious individuality, i.e. that which 
assigneth limits to our ideas, we know tlicy have it not. 

3. I would observe that ideas, as far as they are distinct and par- 
ticular, seem to involve a greater contradiction than when they arc 
confused and general. For, in proportion to their distinctness, muht 
be the number of different acts of the mind excited at the same time ; 
i.e. in proportion to the individuality of the image or idea, if I may 
so express myself, the thought ceases to be individual, inasmuch as 
the simplicity of the attention is thus necetisarily broken and divided 
into a number of different actions which yet are all united in the 
same conscious feeling, or there could be no connection between them. 
How then we should ever be able to conceive of tilings distinctly, 
clearly, and particularly, seems the wondrr : not how different impres- 
sions acting at once on the mind should be confused, and as it were 
massed together, in a general feeling, for want of sofBcieot actirity in 
the intellectual faculties to give form and a distinct place to all that 

10 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



tnrong of objects which at all timn solicit the nttrotion. Lrt any 
one make the experiment of counting a flock, ot' sheep driren fan 
by him, aod he will iK)on find his imagination unable to keep pace 
with tlie rapid Bucccssion of objects^ and his idea of particular number 
ftlide into the general idea of multitude ; not that becaoftc there ^re 
more objects than he poseibly can count, he will think there arc many, 
or that the word flock will present to his mind a mere name, without 
any particulars corresponding to it. Every act of the attention, every 
object we see or think of» presents a proof of the same kind. 

4. I conceive that the mind has not been fairly dealt with in this 
and other similar questions of the same son. Matter alone scenu to 
have the privilege of precenting difficulties, and contradictions at everv 
cum ; but the moment any thing of this kind is observed in the under- 
standing, all the petulance of logicians is up in arms, and the mind i» 
nude the mark on which they vent all the modes and figures of their 
impertinence. Let ub take an example from some of these self- 
evident matters of fact, which contain at least as many, and as great 
contradictions, as any in the most abstruse metaphysical doctrine, such 
MS in extension, motion, and the curve of lines. Now as to the 6r8t 
of tbeve, extension : if we suppose it to be made up of points, which 
are in themselves without extension, but by their combination produce 
it, vre must suppoK two unextended things, when joined together, to 
become extended, which is like supposing, that by adding together 
•ereral nothings, we can arrive at something. On the other hand, if 
we suppose the ultimate parts of which extension is composed, to be 
themselves extended, we then attribute extension to that which ii 
indivisible, or alBrm a thing to consist of parts, and to luve none, at 
the same time. The old argument against the possibility of motion is 
well known : it wan said that the body moving must cither be in the 
place where tt was, or in that into which it was passing. Now, if it 
was in either of these, or in any one place, it must be at rest ; and as 
it could not be in both at once, it followed that a body moving could 
exist no where, or that there was no such thing as motion in nature. 
Again, a curve line is described mathematically by a point moving, 
but always out of a strait line. Now, a strait line is the nearest 
between nny two points. But that a body should move forward, and 
not move strait forward to the next point to which it is going, seems to 
imply 00 Ies> an absurdity than the aHirming that a thing never mofcs 
in the direction in which it is going, but always out of ii ; for, if it 
moves in the same direction, the smallest moment of time, this is not 
a curve, but a strait line ; and if it does not continue to move in the 
nrae direction at all, it seems utterly inconceivable that it should 
imke any progress, or move either in a curve or a strait line. Yet 

31 




ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 

' any one who, on the strength of the contradiction involved in the 
ideas of extension, motion, or curve lines, should severally deny or 
disbelieve any one of them, would he thought to want common sense. 
I think there are certain facts of the mind which arc equally evident 
and unaccountable. Those who contend that the one arc to be 
admitted, and the other not, because the one arc the objects of sense, 
and the other not, do not deserve any serious answer. It is as much 
a fact, that I remember having seen the sun yesterday, as that I see 
it to-day, and both of them arc much more certain facts than that 
there is any such body as the sun really existing out of the mind. 

I will now return to Uerkeley, and endeavour to answer his chief 
objcciions to the doctrine of abstract ideas. First, then, I conceive 
that he has himxelf virtually given up the question, when he allows 
that the mind may be affected with the promise of a good thing, or 
terrified by the apprehension of danger, without thinking of any par- 
ticular good or evil that is likely to befal us. What this idea of good 
or evil, which is not particular, can be, other than abstract, I cannot 
conceive ; and to say that it is not an idea, but a mere feeling excited 
by custom, is an answer very little to the purpose. For this feeling, 
this custom, is itself a general impression, and could not, without a 
power of abstraction in the mind, tiiink, without a power of being 
acted upon by a number of different impulses of pleasure and pain, 
concurring to produce a general effect, abstracted from the particular 
feelings themselves, or the objects first exciting them. All abstract 
ideas are several impressions of the same kind, and are merely 
customary affections of the mind, not distinct images of things. But if 
it be Raid that the word idea properly signifies an image, and must be 
something distinct, then I answer, first, that this would only restrict the 
use of the word idea to particular things, and not affect the real question 
in dispute, and secondly, that there is no such thing as a distinct 
and particular image in the mind. The manner in which Berkeley 
explains the nature of mathematical demonstnitions, according to his 
system, shews its utter inadequatcness to any pur|>nse8 of general reason- 
ing, and is a plain confession of the necessity of abstract ideas. For 
all the answer he gives to the question, how can we know any pro- 
position to be true in general, from having found it so in a particular 
instance, comes to this, that though the diagram we have in Wew 
includes a number of particulars, yet we know the principle to be true 
generally, because tkere is not the least mention made of these parlicuhrj 
m the proof of the firopojition. But 1 would ask also, whether there 
is not the least thought of them in the mind ? The truth is, that the 
mind upon Berkeley's principle must think of the particular right 
angled, isosceles, triangle in question, or it can have no idea at all, 

32 




ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 

for it has no general idea of a triangle to which it can apply the name 
gCDcnlly. If we suppose that there is any such genera) form, or 
notion to which the other particular circumstances are merely super- 
added, and which may be left standing, though they are taken away, 
we then ran immediately to all the absurdities of abRtraction, which 
he so much wishes to avoid. If we then demonstrate the proposition 
of tbr particular diagr:im before us, as of a determinate size, shape, 
Stc.y this demonstration cannot hold good generally. If wc are 
suppOMfd to omit all these jnrticular circumstanceii in our minds, then 
we either demonstrate the proposition of the general and abstract idea 
of a triangle, or of no idea at all ; for after the particulars are omitted, 
or not attended to by the mind, the only idea remaining mast be a 
general one. Farther, that on which I am willing to rest the whole 
controversy, is the following remark, inx.., that without the general 
idea of a line or triangle, there could be no particular one; that is, no 
idea of any one line or triangle, as of the same form, or as any way 
related to any other, so that there could be no common measure or 
line to connect any of our thoughts or reasoning together into a general 
conclusion. For to take the former instance ns the most simple. 
When we speak of any particular extension, it is evident that we 
understand something which is not particular. Besides what is 
peculiar to it, it must have something which is not peculiar to it, 
Emt general, to merit the common appellation. Berkeley says, * An 
idea which in itself is particular, becomes general, by being made to 
represent or stand for all other particular ideas of /6e same sort.* I do 
rcfjuesi that the import of these last words may be attended to. Do 
they suggest any idea or none ; if they mean any thing, it must be 
Kmiething more than the particular ideas which are said to be of the 
came sort, f.r. some general notion of them. But this will involve all 
the absurdities of abstraction. If there is .iny thing in the mind 
beside* these particular ideas themselves — any thing that compares or 
contrasts them, that refers to this or that belief, this comparison or 
classifying can be nothing but a perception of a general nature in 
which these things agree, or the general resemblance which the mind 
perceives between the several impressions. If there is no such cora- 
pariKHi or percepHon of resemblance, or idea of abstract qualities, then 
there can be no idea answering to the words * of the same sort ; * but 
the*e particular ideas will be left standing by themselves, absolutely 
unconnected. Ar far as our ideas are merely particular, f.r. are 
negations of other ideas, so far they must be perfectly distinct from 
each other : there can be nothing between them to blend or associate 
them together. Each separate idea would be surrounded with a 
ehevaux dt frise of its own, in a state of irreconcilable antipathy to 

n 



ON ABSTRACT IDEAS 



every other idea, and the fair form of natore would present nothing 
but a number of discordaot atoms. A panicular Unc would no more 
represent anocher line, than it would represent a point : one colour 
could no more resemble another colour, or suggest its idea, than it 
could that of a sound, or a smell ; there could be no clue to make us 
class different shades of (he same colour under one genera! name, any 
more than the most opposite : one triangle would be as distinct from 
another, as from a square or a cube, and so through the whole system 
of art and nature. There must be a mutual leaning, a greater 
proximity between some ideas than others : a common point to which 
they tend, that it a common quality : a general nature, in which they 
are identified : or there could not be in the mind more ideas of 
same or like, or different, or judgment, or reasoning, or truth, or 
falsehood, than in the stones in the fields, or the sands of the sea- 
shore. The idea of classing things implies only the same son of 
general comparison, or abstract idea of likeness, that is necessary 
to the idea of any simple sensible quality of an object. In both 
cases, we only contemplate a number of things as alike or under 
the same general notion, without attending to their actual differ- 
ences. Take the idea, for insuDce, of a slab of white marble. 
As long as only one such piece of marble is considered, it is 
supposed to be a particular object, and its whiteness is supposed to 
be perceived by the mind as a simple sensible quality. If, on the 
contrary, scTcral such slabs of marble are presented to the mind, this 
is commonly considered as producing a general idea of marble and of 
whiteness. But this idea of whiteness, not as a quality of a panicular 
thing, but as a common quality of different things, is rejected by the 
moderns as implying the supposition, that several different ideas can 
coalesce in the same general notion, which amounts, they say, to the 
contradiction that a thing may be the same, and different at the same 
time. Now I would afHnn whatever there is absurd or inconceivable 
in this latter case applies eqoally to tlie former. For what possible 
idea can any man form of a slab of white marble, in any other way 
than that of abstraction ^ Is the idea of its whiteness as a sensible 
quality the idea of a jioint. Is it one single impression ? This 
Berkeley and others deny, for they say there can be no idea of colour 
without extension, or of quality without quantity. If there are in 
this object several impressions of colour, I would ask are they all dis- 
tinctly perceived ? Are they all the same ? Or if not, are all their 
differences perceived by the mtnd, before tt possibly can be impressed 
with the general idea of a certain sensible quality, or that the object 
before it is white i Is the mind aware of even the slightest stain in 
this object, of every thing that may happen to vary it ? Yet, if the 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



I 

I 



idea falls anything short of this minute and perfect knowledge, it can 
oaty be an imperfect and general notion. That is, a number of 
ditfvrcncee must be massed together in a common feeling of like&esB> 
and a number of separate parts make op the idea of a given objecL 
Yet this is all that h Implied in forming the Ideas of whiteness in 
general, as belonging to several objects, or of colour, or extension, or 
any other idea whatever, drawn from numberless objects, impressed at 
numberless times. If particular objects or qualities were single 
things, there would then be some precise Limit between them and 
abstract or general ideas, but as the most particular object, or 
qualities, as well as the most general combinations and classes of 
things are necessarily confused and mixed results, and nothing more 
than a number of impresbiooi, never distinctly analyzed by the mtnd, 
there can be no general reasoning to disprove abstracted ideas in the 
common sense of the word. 



I 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

In the following Essays I shall attempt to give some account of the 
rise and progress of modem metaphysics to state the opinions of the 
principal writers who have treated on the subject, from the time of 
Lord Bacon to tlie present day, and to examine the arguments by 
which they are supported. In the first place, ii will Iw my object to 
shew what the real conclusions of the most celebrated auLhom were, 
and the steps by which they arrived at them : to trace tlie connexion 
Off point out the ditference between their several systems, as well as 
to inquire into the peculiar bias and turn of their minds, and in what 
their true strength or weakness lay. This will undoulx*dly be best 
done by an immediate reference to their works whenever the nature 
of the subject admits of it, or whenever their mode of reasoning is not 
HO loose and desultory as to render the quotation of particular passages 
a useless as well as endless labour. In the History of English 
Philosophy, of which I published a prospectus some time ago, I 
intended to have gone regularly through with all the writers of any 
considerable note who fell within the limits of my plan, and to have 
given a detailed analysis of their several subjects and arguments. 
But this would lead to much greater length and minuteness (^ 
inqnlry than seems consistent with my present object, and would 
besides, I am afraid, prove (what Hobbes, speaking of these subjects 
in general, calls) <but dry diGcourse.' To avoid this as much as 
poftsibic, I shall pais over all those writers who have not been dis- 
tinguished cither by the boldness of their opinions^ or the logical 

«5 




ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

prcciiion of thcix argumenti. Indeed I ilull confine my anentioo 
more j>amcoIarijr to those who haTc made themcelTes coo^oxku by 
deriatiag from the beaten track, and who have itruck oat some 
original diicovery or brilliant paradox; whose metaphysica] systems 
trench the cloKvt on morality, or whose speculation!, by the interest 
as well as novelty attached to them, hare become topics of geoeral 
conversation. 

Secondly, besides stating the opinions of others, one principal 
o^>ject which 1 shall have in view will be to act as judge or umpire 
between them, to distinguish, as far as I am able, the boundaries of 
true and false philosophy, and to try if 1 cannot lay the foundation 
of a system more coDtormablc to reason and experience, and, in its 
practical resulu at least, approaching nearer to the common sense of man- 
kind, than the one which has been generally received by the most 
knowing persons who have attended to such subjects within the last 
century ; I mean the material or modem philosophy, as it has been 
called. According to this philosophy, as I anderstaod it, all thought 
is to be resolved into sensation, all morality into the love of pleasure, 
and all action into mechanical impulse. These three propositions, 
taken together, embrace almost every question relaling to the human 
mind, and in their different ramifications and intersections form a net, 
not unlike that used by the enchanters of old, which, whosoever has 
once thrown over him, will find all his efForu to escape vain, and his 
attempu to reason freely on any subjea in which his own nature is 
concerned, baffled and confounded in every direction. 

This system, which first rose at the snggestioo of Lord Bacon, on 
the ruins of the school-philowphy, has been gradually growing up to 
its present height ever since, from a wrong interpretation of the word 
experinuff confining it to a knowledge of things without us ; whereas 
it in fact includes all knowledge relating to objects either within or 
out of the mind, of which we have any direct and positive evidence. 
We only know that we ourselves exist, the most certain of all truths, 
from the experience of what passes within oursclres. Strictly speak- 
ing, all other facts of which we are not immediately conscious, are so 
in a secondary and subordinate sense only. Physical experience is 
indeed the foundation and the test of that part of philosophy which 
relates to physical objects ; further, physical analogy is the only rule 
by which we can extend and apply our immediate knowledge, or 
infer the eifects to be produced by the ditTerent objects arouml us. 
But to say that physical experiment is either the test or source or guide 
of that other part of philosophy which relates to our internal percep- 
tions, that we are to look to external nature for the form, the substance, 
the colour, the very life and being of whatever exists in our minds, or 

a6 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

that^ wr can only infer the laws which regulate the phenomena of the 
mind from those which regoJate the phenomena of matter, is to con- 
I two things entirely distinct. Our knowledge of mcntaj phenomena 
I consciousness, reflection, or obscnration of their correspondent signs 
in others is the true basis of metaphysical inquiry, as the knowledge of 
f(uUt commonly so called, is the only solid basts of natural philosophy. 
To say that the operations of the mind and the operations of 
matter are in reality the same, so that we may always make the one 
^exponents of the other, is to assume the very point in dispute, not 
'-only without any evidence, but in defiance of every appearance to the 
contrary. Lord Bacon was undoubtedly a great man, indeed one of 
the greatest that have adorned this or any other country. He was a 
an of a clear and active spirit, of a most fertile genius, of vast 
'designs, of general knowledge, and of profound wisdom. He united 
the powers of imagination and understanding in a greater degree than 
, almost any other writer. He was one of the strongest instances of 
tiOK men, who by the rare privilege of their nature are at once poets 
philosophers, and see equally into both worlds. The schoolmen 
their followers attended to nothing but essences and species, to 
uaboured analyses and arti6cal deductions. They seem to have alike 
Idisrcgarded both kinds of experience, that relating to external 
objects, and that relating to the observation of our own internal 
feelings. From the imperfect slate of knowledge, they had not a 
rXnfficient number of facts to guide them in their experimental 
kiesearches ; and intoxicated with the novelty of their vain distinctions, 
ktsught by rote, they would be tempted to desjHse the clearest and 
Imon obvious suggestions of their own minds. Subtile, restless, and 
I telf'Sufficient, they thought that truth was only made to be disputed 
about, and existed no where but in their demonstrations and 
tyllogiims. Hence arose their * logomachy ' — their everlasting word- 
fights, their sharp debates, their captious, bootless controversies. 

As Lord Bacon expresses il, 'they were made fierce with dark 

keeping,* signifying that their angry and unintelligible contests with 

\ one another were owing to their not having any distinct objects to 

^engage their attention. They built altogether on their own whims 

\ and fancies, and buoyed up by their specific levity, they mounted in 

their airy disputations in endless flights and circlesi clamouring like 

birds of prey, till they equally lost sight of truth and nature. This 

kgreai man therefore intended an essential service to philosophy, in 

I wishing to recall the attention to facts and 'experience ' which had 

» been almost entirely neglected ; and thus, by incorporating the abstract 

with the concrete, and general reasoning with individual observation, 

to gjve to oar conclusions that solidity and firmness which they must 

27 




ON THE WHITINGS OF HOBBES 



othenriie alwayt want. He did nothisg but mutt oo the neceiiity of' 
* experience,' more particularly in lutoral »cience ; and firom the 
wider 6eld chat u open to it there, u well u the prodigioos nicccas it 
has met with, thia Uner application of the word, to which it is 
tanCAmouQt to physical experiment, hat bo far engro«ied the whole of 
our attention, that mind has for a good while just been is toiDe 
danger of being orerlaid by matter. We nin Irom one error into 
another ; and at we were wrong at lirit, to m altering our courte, we 
haTe turned about to the opposite extreme. We dcspi«ed * expert- 
eoce ' altogether tiefore ; now we would have nothing but 'experience,* 
and that of the grossest tcind. 

We hare, ic it true, gained much by not coniiulcing the niggettiont 
of our own mindt in questions where they ioTorm us of oothiiig ; 
namely, in the particular laws and pfaeoomcna of the natoixl worid ; 
and we hare hastily concluded, reversing the rule, that the best way 
to arriTc at the knowledge of ourselvet also, wat to lay aside the 
dictatet of our own conscioutnett, thonghtt, and feelings, as deceitful 
and insufficient guides, though they are the only means by which we 
can obtain the least light upon the subject. Wc seem to hare 
resigned the natural use of our understandings, and to hare given up 
our own existence us a nonentity. We look for our choaghts and the 
distinguishing properties of our minds in tome image of them in 
matter, as we look to see our faces in a glass. We no longer decide 
physical problems by logical dilemmas, but we decide questions of 
logic by the eridcnces of the senses. Instead of putting our reason 
and invention to the rack indifferently on all questions, whether we 
have any previous knowledge of them or not, we have adopted the 
easier method of suspending the use of our faculties altogether, and 
■cttling tedious conuoversies by means of * four champions fierce — 
hot, cold, moiit and dry/ who with a few more of the retainers and 
hangers on of matter determine all questions relating to the nature of 
man and the limits of the human understanding very learnedly. That 
which we seek however, namely, the nature of the mind and the laws 
by which we think, feel, and act, we must discover in the mind itself 
or not at :ill. 'I^he niimi has laws, powers, and principles of its own, 
ood is not the mere puppet of matter. This general bias In favour of 
mechanical reasoning and physical experiment, which was the conse- 
quence of the previous total neglect of them in matters where they 
were striclly necessary, wos strengthened by the powerful aid of 
HobbcB, who was indeed the father of the modem philosophy. His 
strong mind and body appear to have resisted all impressions but 
those which were derivra from the downright blows of matter : all 
hit Idea* seemed to lie like substances in his brain : what was not a 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

solid, tangible, disUoct, pidpable object was to him nothing. The 
external image pressed so close upon his mind that it destroyed the 
power of conscioosDeu, and left no room for attention to any thing 
bat itself. He was by nature a materialist. Loclte assisted greatly 
in giving popularity to the same scheme, as well by espousing many 
of Hobbcs s metaphysical principles as by the doubtful resistance which 
he made to the rest. And it has been perfected and has received its 
last polish and roundness in the hands of some French philosophers^ 
as Condillac ;ind others. It has been generally supposed that 
Mr. Locke was the first person who, in hts * Hsaay on the Human 
Uodcretanding * established ttic modern metaphysical system on a 
solid and immoveable basis. This is a great mistake. The system, 
such as it is, existed entire in all its general principles in Hobbes 
beibrr him ; this was nrrer unequivocally or explicitly avowed by the 
author of the ' Essay on the Human Understanding.' Locke merely 
endeavoured to accommodate Hobbes's leading principle to the more 
popular opinions of the time ; and alJ that succeeding writers have 
done to improve upon his system, and clear it of inconsistent and 
extraneous matter, has only tended to reduce it back to the purity 
and simplicity in which it is to be found in Hobbes. The immediate 
and professed object of both these writers is indeed the same, namely, 
to account for our ideas and the formation of the human understanding 
from Bcnoible impressions. But in the execution of this design, Mr. 
Locke has deviated widely and at almost every step from his pre- 
deceaior. This difference would almost unavoidably arise from the 
natural character of their minds, which were the most opposite 
conceivable. Hobbes had the utmost reliance on himself, and wai 
impatient of the le.ist doubt or contradiction. He saw from the 
beginning to the end of his system. He is always therefore on firm 
ground, and never once swerves from bis object. He is at no pains 
to remove objections, or soften consequences. Granting his first 
principle, all the rest follows of course. There is an air of grandeur 
in the item confidence with which he stands alone in the world of 
his own opinions, regardless of his contemporaries, and conscious that 
be is the founder of a new race of thinkers. Locke, on the other 
band, was a man, who without the same comprehensive grasp of 
thought had a greater deference fur the opinions of others, and was of 
a much more cautious and circumspect turn of mind. He could not 
bat meet with many things in the peremptory assertions of Hobbes 
that must make him pause, that he would be at a loss to reconcile to 
an attentive observation of what passed in his own mind, and that 
would equally shock the prevailing notions both of the learned and 
the ignorant. He was therefore led to consider the different 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



objecttou to the system which had been left ananswcred and 
unooticed, to make a compromise between the re c wTed doctrioesr and 
the violetit paradoxes coataioed id the * LcriatfaiaD ' aad the * Treatise 
of Human Nature/ or to admit thete laa wrdt to nuny qnafificaiioiH, 
with io much ctrcumlocutioo and prepantxoci» aod after ncfa an 
appearance of the meet mature aod candid examina&on, and of 
willingness to be coofioced on the other side of the qoestioo, aa to 
obriate the offenuve and harsh effect which accompanies the abrapt 
dogmatism of the original author. It was perhaps neccwary that 
the o])inions of Hobbei should undergo this sort of metamoqihous 
before they could gain a bearing : as the direct rays of the son must 
be blunted aod refracted by passing through some detuet medium in 
order to be borne by common eyet. So sheathed aod softened, their 
sharp, unpleasant points taken off, his doctrines almost immediately 
met with a favourable reception, and became popular. The geoerd 
principle being once estahUsfaed without its |»rticular consequences, 
and the public mind assured, it was soon found an easy task to point 
out the inconsistency of Mr. Locke's reasoning io many reqieccs, and 
to girc a more decided tone to his philosophical lysiem. Berkeley 
was one of the 6rtt who tried the experiment of pushing hii principles 
into the rerge of paradox on the question of abstract ideas, which he 
has done with admirable dexterity and clearness, but without going 
beyond the cxplicitncss of Hobbcs on the same question* Subsequent 
writers added different chapters to supply the deficiencies of the Essay, 
which, with scarcely a single exception, may be found esaentially 
comprized in that institute and digest of modem philosophy, our 
author's * Leviathan.* 

In thus giring the praise of originality and force of mind to Hobbes, 
aod regarding Locke merely as his foliowrer, I may be thought to 
Tenture on dangerous ground, or to lay unhallowed hands on a reputa- 
tion which is dear to every lover of truth. But if something is due 
to fame, something is also due to justice. I confess howerer, that 
having brought this charge against the * Essay on the Human Under- 
standing,* I am bound to make it good in the Rjllest manner; 
otherwise, I shall be inexcusable. 

What I therefore propose in the remainder of the present Essay is 
to show that Mr. Locke was not really the founder of the modem 
system of philosophy as it respects the human mind ; and I shall 
think that I hare sufficiently established this point, if I can nuke it 
appear, both that the principle itself on which that system rests, and 
all the striking consequences which have been deduced from it, are to 
be found in the writings of Hobbcs, more clearly, decidedly, and 
forcibly expressed than they arc in the " Essay on the Human Uoder- 

30 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



etanding/ Whco I speak of the principle of the modern metaphysical 
fly6tem, I mean the assumption that tlie oi>eration8 of the intellect arc 
only a continuation of the impulses existing in matter, or that all the 
thoughts and conceptions of the mind arc nothing more nor lesa than 
Tirioas modifications of the original impressions of things on a being 
cxxltied with sensation or simple perception. This system considers 
■deu merely as they are caused by external objects, acting od the 
organs of sense, and tries to account lor them on that hypothesis 
solely. It is upon this principle of excluding the uDdersunding as a 
distinct faculty or power from all share in its own operations, that the 
whole of Hobbes's reasoning proceeds. Lee us ace what he makes 
of it. 

The first pftrt of the * Leviathan,' entitled * Of Mao,' beg;io8 id 
this manner : 

CHAJTra I. — Of Sense — •Concerning the thoughts of man, I 
will consider them, first singly, and afterwards in train, or dependence 
upon one another. Singly, they arc erery one a representation or 
appearance of some quality or other accident of a body without as; 
which is commonly called an ohjrcti Which object worketh on the 
eyes, ears, and otlier parts of man's body ; and by diversity of 
working, produceth diversity of appearances. 

• The Original of them all is that which we call ScNsa : For there 
is DO conception in a man's mind which hath not at lirst, totally or by 
pans, been begotten upon the organs of sense. The rest arc deriTctl 
from that original. 

■The cause of sense is the external body or object which presseth 
the organ proper to each sense, cither immediately as in the taste and 
touch, or mediately as in seeing, hearing, and smelling : which 
pressure by the mediation of nerves, and other strings and membranes 
of the body, continued inwards to the Brain and Heart, causeth there 
a resistance or counter -pressure^ or endeavour of the heart to deliver 
itself: which endeavour, because outiviirtlj seemetb to be some matter 
without. And this seeming or fancy is that which men call sense : 
and consistctli to the eye, in a light or colour figured ; to the ear, in 
a sound ; to the nostril, in an odour ; to the tongue and palate, in a 
savour, and to the rest of the body in heat, cold, hardness, softness, 
and such other qualities, as we discern by feeling. All which qualities 
called itfuiblr are in the object that causeth them but so many several 
motions of the matter by which it presseth our organs diversely. 
Neither in us that arc pressed are they any thing cl»e but divers 
motions ; for motion produceth nothing but motion. But their 
appearance to us is fancy, the same waking as dreaming. And as 
pressing, rubbing, or striking the eye maketb us fancy a light, and 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



of tlie senses, it is apparent enough that the smell and taste of the 
same thing are not the same to every man, and therefore are not in 
the thing smelt or tasted, but in the men. So likewise the heat we 
feel from the tire is manifestly in us, and is quite different from the 
heat which is in the fire : for our heat is pleasure or pain, according 
zs it is great or moderate ; but in the coat there is no such thing. 
By this the fourth and last proposition is prorcd ; viz. That as in 
vision, so also in conceptions that arise from other senses, the subject 
of their inherence is not in the object, but in the sentient. And 
from hence alio tt followeth that whatsoever accidents or qualities 
cnir senses make us think there be in the world, they be not there, 
but are seeming and apparitions only: the things thai really are in 
tbe world without as, are those motions by which these seemings are 
caosed. And this is the great deception of sense, which also is to 
be by sense corrected : for as sense telleth me, when I sec directly, 
that the colour seemcth to be in the object ; ao also sense telleth me 
when I see by reflection, that colour is not in the object.' — Humam 
Nature, chap. ii. p, 9. 

The second chapter of the ' Leviathan ' contains an account of tbe 
manner in which our ideas are generated, and is as follows : 

'That when a thing lies still, unless somewhat else stir it, it will 
lie still for ever, is a truth that no man doubts of. But that when a 
thing is in motion, it will eternally be in motion, unless somewhat 
else stay it, though the reason be the same (namely, that nothing can 
chuige itself) is not so easily assented to. For men measure not 
only other men, but all other things by themselves ; and because they 
find themselves subject after motion to pain and lassitude, think every 
thing else grows weary of motion, and seeks repose of its own accord ; 
Uttle considering whether it be not some other motion wherein that 
desire of rest they find in themselves consisteth. From hence it is, 
that the Schools say, heavy bodies fall downward out of ao appetite 
to rest, and to conserve their nature in that place which is most 
proper for them : ascritnog appetite and knowledge of what ts good 
for their conservation (which is more than man has) to things 
inanimate, absurdly. 

•When a body is once in motion, it moveth (unless something else 
hinder it) eternally: and whatsoever bindereth it, cannot in an 
instant, but in tune and by degrees quite extinguish it. And as we 
see in the water, though the wind cease, the waves give not over 
rolling for a long time after ; so also it happeneth in that motion 
which is made in the internal parts of a man then, when he sees, 
hears, &c. For after the object is removed or the eye shut, we still 
retain an image of the thing seen, though more obscure than when 

Tou xr. : c 53 




ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



we see it. And this is it the Latins call imi^inalumj from the image 
nude in seeing; and apply the same, though improperly, to all the 
other senses. But the Greeks call it fancy \ which ngniftes appear- 
ance, and is ai proper to one sense, as to another. Imagination it 
therefore nothing but detaylng lente ; and is found in moo and many 
other living creatures, as well sleeping as waking. 

' The decay of sense in men w;iking is ^n obscuring of it in such 
manner as the light of the sun obscureth the light of the surs, which 
stars do no less exercise their virtue by which they are vistbte in the 
day than in the night. But because amongst many strokes, which 
our eyes, cars, and other organs receive from external bodies, the 
predominant only is sensible, therefore the light of the sun being 
predominant, wc are not affected with the action of the surs. And 
any object being removed from our eyes, though the impression it 
mvie in us remain ; yet other objects more present succeeding, and 
working on us, the imagination of the past is obscured, and made 
weak; as the voice of a man is in the noise of the day. From 
whence it follows, that the longer the time is, after the sight or sense 
of any objects the weaker is the inuiginatioo. For the continual 
change of man's body destroys in time the parts which in sense were 
moved : so that distance of time and of place hath one and the same 
effect in us. For as at a great distance of place, that which we look 
at appears dim, and without distinction of the smaller parts, and as 
voices grow weak and inarticulate, so also alter great distance of 
time, our imagination of the past is weak ; and we lose (for example) 
of cities we have seen many particular streets, and of aaions, many 
particular circumstances. 1 his decaying sense, when we would 
express the thing itself (I mean fancy itself) we call ImaginatioD, as 
I said before: but when we would express the decay, and signify 
that the seoae is 6iding, old and past, it is called Memory. So that 
imagination and memory are but one thing which for divers considera- 
tions hath divers names. Much memory or memory of many things 
is called Experience. 

'Again, imagination being only of those things which have beco 
formerly perceived by sense, cither all at once, or by parts at several 
times, the former (which is the imagining the whole object as it was 
presented to the sense) is s'm^e imagination ; as when one imagineth a 
man or horse which be hath seen before. The other is compoundxd^ 
as when from the sight of a man at one time, and of a horse at 
another, we conceive in our mind a cenuur. So when a man com- 
poundeth the image of his own person with the image of the actiooi 
of another man ; as when a man conceives himself a Hercules or an 
Alexander (which happeneth often to them which are much taken 

3* 



ON THE WRITINGS OP HOBBES 



I 



with the reading of Romauou) U U a conipouod inugiiuiioo, and 
proprrly but a fictioD of the mind. 

'There be also other imagiaations that rise in man, (though 
waking) from the great impression made in sense : ai from gazing 
upon the sun, the impression leaves an image of the sun before our 
eyes a long time after; and from being long and rchemently attent 
apon geometrical tiguxcs a man shal] in the dark (though awake) 
have the image of lines and angles before his eyes : which kind of 
&ncy hath no particular name ; as being a thing that doth not 
commonly fall into men's discourse. 

'The imaginations of them that sleep are thoee we call dreams: 
and these also (as all other imaginations) have been before, either 
toully or by parceU in the nense, and because the brain and nerves, 
which are the neces«ary organs of sense, are so benumbed in sleep, aa 
not easily to be moved by the action of external objects, there can 
happen in sleep no imagination ; and therefore no dream but what 
proceeds from the agiution of the inward parts of man's body ; 
which inward parts, for the connexion they have with the brain and 
other organs, when they be distempered, do keep the same in motion i 
whereby the imaginations there iormerly made, appear as if a man 
were waking ; saving that the organs or sense being now benumbed, 
w as there is no new object, which can master and obscure them 
with a more rigorous impression, a dream must needs be more clear 
tn this silence of sense, than arc our waking thoughts. And hence it 
cocneth to pats, that it is a hard matter, and by many thought 
iropOAsible, to distinguish exactly between sense and dreaming. For 
my part, when I consider that in dreams I do not often, nor con* 
toctiy tliink o( the same persons, places, subjects, and actions that 
I do waking; nor remember so long a train of coherent thoughts 
dreaming, as at other times ; and because waking I often observe the 
absurdity of dreams, but never dream of the absurdities of my waking 
thoughts, — I am well satisfied, that being awake, I know I dream 
not; though when I dream, 1 think myself awake.' — Leviathan^ 

PP- 4» S> ^* . 

The concluding paragraph of this Chapter is remarkable. 

'The imagination that is raised in man (or any other creature 
endued with the faculty of imagining) by words or other voluntary 
signs, is that we generally call Understanding : and is common to 
man and beast. For a dog by custom will understand the call or 
rating of his master, and so will many other beasts. That under- 
luoding which is peculiar to man, is the understanding not only his 
will, but bis conceptions and thoughts, by the sei^uel and contexture 
of the nanKs of things into aErmatioos, negations, and other forms of 

35 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

speech ; aztd of this kind of understandiDg I shall speak hereafter/ — 
Page 8. 

As ID the first two chapters Mr. Hobbes cfuleaTours to show that 
all our thoughts, considered singly or in ihcmselTcs, have ihcir origin 
in sensation, so in the next chapter, he resolves all their combinations 
or connexions one with another into the principle of association, or 
the coexistence of their sensible impressions. 

* By consequence or train of thoughts/ he says, •! understand that 
succession of one thought to another, which is called (to distinguish 
it from discourse in words) mentaJ discount.* 

' When a man thioketh on any thing whatsoever, his next thought 
after it is not altogether bo casual as it seems to be. Not every thought 
to every thought succeeds indifferently. But as we have no imagina- 
tion, whereof we have not formerly had sense in wliole or in parts; 
so wc have no transition from one imagination to another, whereof 
we never had the like before in our senses. The reason whereof Is 
this. All fancies are motions within us, reliques of those made in 
sense : and thoie motions that succeeded one another In die sense, 
continue also together after sense: iDsomuch as the former coming 
again to take place, and be predominant, the latter followeth, by 
coherence of the matter moved, in such manner, as water upon a 
plane table is drawn which way any one part of it is guided by the 
finger. But because in sense to one and the same thing perceived, 
sometimes one thing, sometimes another succeedeth, it comes to pass 
in time, tliat in the imagining of any thing, there is no certainly what 
we shall imagine next. Only this is certain, it shall be something 
that succeeded the same before, at one time or another.' — Page 9. 

The comprehension and precision with which the law of associa- 
tion is here unfolded as the key to every movement of the mind, and 
as regulating every wandering tliought, cannot be too much admired ; 
it is enough to say that Hartley, who certainly understood more of 
the power of association than any other man, has added nothing to 
tliis short passage, as far as relates to the succession of ideas. He 
has indeed extended its application in unravelling the fine web of our 
affections and feelings, by showing how one idea transfers the feeling 
of pleasure or pain to others associated with it, which is not here 
noticed. Whether this principle really has all the extent and efficacy 
ascribed to it by either of these writers will be made tlic subject of a 
future inquiry. How well our author understood the question, and 
how much it had assumed a consistent and systematic form in his 
mind will appear from the instances he brings in illustration of this 
intricate and at the time almost unthought-of subject. 

■The traio of thoughts or mcnul discourse is of two sorts. The 

36 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



I 



Unt 18 uDguidcU, without design and ioconstaot ; wherein there is no 
passiooate thought to govern and direct those that follow to itself as 
the end and scope of some deaire or other passion ; in which case the 
thoughts are said to wander and seem inipenineot one to another as in 
a dream. Such are commonly the thoughts of men, that are not 
only without company, but also without care of any thing ; though 
even then their thoughts are as busy as at other times, but without 
harmony, as the jtouiid which a lute out of tune would yield to any 
man, or in tune to one that could not play. And yet in this wild 
ranging of the mind, a man may ofttimcs perceive the way of it, and 
the depemiencc of one thought upon another. For in a discourse of 
our present civil war, what could seem more impertinent than to ask 
(as one did) what was the value of a Roman penny? Yet the 
coherence to me was manifest enough. For the thoughts of the war 
introduced the thought of the delivering up the king to his enemies ; 
the thought of that brought in the thought of the delivering up of 
Christ i and that agun the thought of the thirty pence, which was 
the price of that treason : and thence easily followed that malicious 
question ; and all this in a moment of time; for thought is quick. 

*Thc second' [that is the second sort of association] *i8 more 
coDStant, as being regulated by some desire, and design. For the 
impression made by such things as we desire or fear, is strong and 
permanent, or, if it cerise for a time, of quick return ; so strong it is 
tometimes as to hinder and break our sleep. From desire ariseth the 
thought of some means we have seen produce the like of what we 
aim at : and from the thought of that, the thought of means to that 
mean, and so continually till we come to some beginning within our 
own power.* 

He adds, — * This train of regulated thoughts is of two kinds : one, 
when of an effect imagined, we seek the causes or means that produce 
it ; and this is common to man and beast. The other is when im- 
agining anything whatsoever, we seek all the possible effects that can 
by it be produced : that is to say, we imagine what wr can do with it 
when we have it. Of which I have not at any time seen any sign 
bat in man only ; for this h a curiosity hardly incident to the nature 
of any living creature that has no ether passion but sensual, such as 
are hunger, thirst, lust, and anger. In sum, the discourse of the mind 
when it is governed by design, is nothing but seeking or the faculty of 
mveotion, which the Latins call tagacitas and jo/ertiat a finding out of 
the causes of some effect, present or past ; or of the effects of some 
present or past cause. Sonietimei^ a man desires to know the event of 
an action ; and then he thinketh of some like action past, and the 
events thereof one after another ; supposing like events will follow like 

$7 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



actions. As he that foresees what will become of a criminal, rc-con« 
what he has eeen follow on the like crime before ; having this order 
of thoughts, the crime, the officer, the prison, the judge, and the 
gallows, which kind of thoughts is called foresight, and prudence or 
providence; and sometimes wisdom ; though such conjcctore, through 
the dtfhcutty of observing aU circumstances, be very fallacious. But 
this is certain ; by how much one man has more experience of things 
past than another; by so much also he is more prudent; and his 
expeaaiions the tetdomer fail him. The present only has a being in 
nanxre; things past have a being in the memory only, but things to 
come have no being at all ; the filture being but a fiction of the mind, 
applying the sequels of actions past to the actions that are present ; 
which with most certainty is done by him that has most experience ; 
but not with certainty enough, and though it be called prudence when 
the event answereth our expectation, yet in its own nature it is but 
presumption ; for the foresight of things to come, which is providence, 
belongs only to him by whose will they are to come : from him only, 
and supernaturally, proceeds prophecy. The best prophet naturally 
is the best guesser ; and the best guesser, he that is most versed and 
studied in the matters he guesses at ; for he hath most signs to guess 
by.* — Page lo. 

After this account he immediately adds, — 

* There is no other act of man*8 mind that I can remember, natur* 
ally planted in him, so as to need no other thing to the exercise of it 
bat to be born a man, and live with the use of his 6ve senses. Those 
other faculties, of which I sliall speak by and by, and which ftecm 
proper to man only, arc acquired, and increased by study and industry ; 
and of most men learned by instruction and discipline; and proceed 
all from the invention of words and speech ; for besides sense and 
thoughts, and the train of thoughts, the mind of man has no other 
motion, tliough by the help of a]>eech and method, the same faculties 
may be improved to such a height, as to distinguish men from all 
other living creatures.* — Page 1 1. 

The conclusion of this chapter in which the author treats of the 
limits of the imagination in too important, and has laid the foundation 
of too many speculations, to be passed over. * Whatsoever we imagine 
is finite. Therefore there is no idea, or conception of any thing we 
call infinite. No man can have in his mind an image of infinite mag- 
nitude ; nor conceive infinite swiftness, infinite time, or infinite force, 
or infinite power. When wc say any thing is infinite, wc signify only 
that wc are not able to conceive the ends and bounds of the thing 
named ; having no conception of the thing, but of our own inability : 
and therefore the name of God is used, not to make us conceive him 

$8 



* 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

(for he ia incomprehcouble and his greatness and power are incooceiv- 
able) but that we may honour him. And because whaiwerer we con- 
ceive has been perccired first by sense, either all at once, or by parts, a 
mas can have do thought, represeoting any thing, not subject to sense. 
No nun, therefore, can conceive any thing, but he mast conceiTe it in 
•ome place, and indued with some determinate magnitude, and which 
may be divided into parts ; not that any thing is all in this place, and 
all in another place at the same time ; nor that two or more things 
can be in one and the same place at once : for none of these things 
erer have, nor can be incident to sense ; but are absurd speeches, 
taken upon credit (without any eignification at alM, from deceived 
philosophers, and deceived, or aecciving schoolmen. — Page 1 1. 

By the extracts which I shall next borrow firom his account of 
langnage and reasoning, it will appear that our author not only threw 
out the first hints of the modem system, which reduces all reasoning 
and understanding to the mechanism of language, but that by a very 
high kind of abstraction, he carried it to perfection at once. The 
whole race of plodding commentators, or dashing paradox-mongers 
■ince his time have not advanced a step beyond him. I shall give this 
part somewhat at large, both because the question is intricate in itself, 
and as it will serve as a specimen of his general mode of writing, in 

^which dry sarcaam, keen observation, extensive thought, and the most 
rigid logic conveyed in a concise and masterly style, are all brought to 

' bear upon the same object. 

*The invention of printing,' he sayi, 'though ingenious, compared 
with the invention of letters is no great matter. But who was the 
first that found the use of letters, is not known. He that first brought 

■ them into Greece, men say, was Cadmus, the Ron of Agcnor, King of 
Phoenicia. A profitable invention for continuing the memory of 
time past, and the conjunction of mankind, dispersed into so many and 
disunt regions of the earth ; and withal difficult, as proceeding from a 
watchful observation of the divers motions of the tongue, palate, lips, 
and other organs of speech, whereby to make as many dinerences of 
characters to remember them ; but the most noble and profitable inven* 
tioo of all other, vras that of speech, consisting of names or appellations, 
and their connections; whereby men register their thoughts, recall 
them when they are past, and also declare them one to another for 
mutual utility and conversation ; without which there had been 
amongst men, neither commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor 
peace, no more than amongst Hoos, bears, and wolves. The first 
author of speech was God himself, that instructed Adam how to name 
fluch creatures as he presented to his sight ; for the scripture goeth no 
farther to this matter. But this was sufficient to direct him to add 

39 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

more names, as the experieDcc and use of the creatures ihould gire 
him occasioD ; and to join them in such manner by degrees, as to 
make himself understood, and so by succession of time, so much 
language might be gotten, as he had found use for ; though not so 
copious as an orator or philosopher has need of : for I do not Jind any 
thing in the scripture, out of which, directly or by consequence can 
be gathered, that Adam was taught the names of all figures, numbers, 
measures, colours, sounds, fancies, relations ; much less the names ot 
words and speech, as, general, special, alBrmaiive, negative, interroga- 
tive, optatire, infiDitire, all which are useful ; and least of all, of entity, 
intentionality, quiddity, and other insigaificant words of the school. 

• The manner how speech servcth to the remembrance of the con- 
sequence of causes and effects, consisteth in the imposing of names, 
and the connexion of them. Of names, some are proper, and singular 
to one only thing; as Peter^ John, tbii man, thit tree; and some are 
common to many things ; man, horse^ tree ; every of which though 
but one name, is nevertheless the name of divers particular things ; 
in respect of all which together, it is called an universal ; there being 
nothing in the world universal but names ; for the things named are every 
one of them individual and singular. One universal name is imposed 
on many things for ibeir similitude in some quality, or other accident : 
and whereas a proper name bringeth to mind one thing only, imiversals 
recall any one of those many. By this imposition of names, some of 
larger, some of stricter signitication, we turn the reckoning of the con- 
sequences of things imagined in the mind, into a reckoning of the 
consequences of appellations. For example : a man that hatli no use 
of speech at all, that is born and remains perfectly deaf and dumb, if he 
set before his eyes a triangle, and t^ it two right angles ( such as are the 
comers of a square figure,) he may by meditation compare and lind, 
that the three angles of that triangle are equal to those two right angles 
that stand by it ; but if another triangle be shown him different in shape 
from the former, he cannot know without a new labour, whether the 
three angles of that alao be equal to the same. But he that hath the 
use of words, when he observes that such equality was consequent, not to 
the length of the sides, nor to any other particular thing in his triangle 
but only to this, that the sides were straight, and the angles three and 
that that was all for which he named it a triangle, will boldly con- 
clude universally that such equality of angles is in all triangles what- 
soever, and register his invention in these general terms : every triangle 
hath its three angles equal to two right anf>lcs. And thus the conse- 
quence found in one particular, comes to be registered and remembered 
as an universal rule ; discharges our mental reckoning of time and place ; 
delivers us ^om all labour of the mind, saving the first, and makes 

40 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



W 



chat which wu found true here, and now, to be true in all times and 
places. But the use of words in regiBCering our thouf^hts, is in nothing 
so erident as in numbering. A natural fool that coulJ never learn by 
heart the order of nomeral words, ai our, /wo, and thr^ff may observe 
erery stroke of the clock, and nod to it, or say one, one ; but can never 
krK>w what hour it itrikes. And it seems, there was a time when 
those nameg of number were not in use, and men were fain to apply 
their fingers of one or both hands to those things they desired to keep 
account of; and that thence it proceeds, that now our numeral words 
are but ten, in any nation, and in some but five, and then they begin 
again. And he that can tell ten, if he recite them out of order, will 
lose himself, and not know when he hath done : much less will be be 
able to add, and subtraa, and perform all other operations of arithmetic. 
So that without words there is no possibility of reckoning of numbers ; 
much less of magnitudes, of swiftness, of force, and other things, the 
reckoning whereof is necessary to the being, or well-being of mia- 
kind,' ^ /..n'taihant chap, iv., pp. 12, 14. 

The same train of reasoning occurs in the * Discourse of Human 
Nature,' with some variation in the expression. 

* By the advantage of names it is that we are capable of science, 
which beasts for want of them arc not; nor man, without the use of 
them ', for as a beast misseth not one or two out of her many young 
00C8, for want of those names of order, one, ttvOf and ihrte, and which 
we call number \ so nettlicr would a man without rejKating orally or 
mentally those words of number, knuw how many pieces of money or 
other things lie before him. Seeing there be many conceptions of one 
and the same thing, and that for every conception we give it a several 
aame, it followeth that for one and the same thing, wc have many 
namcB or attributes ; as to the same man we give the appellations 
of JuJt J vaJianif strong, comely, &c. And again, because from divers 
things we receive like conceptions, many things must ncreds have the 
tame appellations : as to all things we see we give the name aivijihie. 
Those names we give to many, are called universal to thcni all : as 
the name of man to every particular of mankind. Such appellations 
a« we give to one only thing, we call individual, or singular ; as 
Socratet and other proper names, or by circumlocution, He that tvrit 
the IRailst for Homer. 

* The universality of one name to many things hath been the cause 
chat men think the things are themselves universal : and so seriously 
CODteod that besides Peter and John, and all the rest of the men that 
are, have been, or shall be in the world, there is yet something else 
that wr call man, viz. Afan In general, deceiving themselves by taking 
the universal or general appellation for the thing it signifieth. For 

4' 




I 

1 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

if one should de»re the painter to make him the picture of a man, 
which is aa much as to say of a man in general, he meaneth no more 
but that the painter should choose what man he pleaseth to draw, 
which rauft needs be some of them that, are or hare been or may be, 
none of which are universal. But when he would have him to draw 
the king or any particular person, he limiteth the painter to that one 
person he chooseth. It is plain therefore there is nothing universal 
but names, which are therefore called indefinite, because we limit them 
not ourselves, but leave them to be applied by the hearer : whereas a 
singular name is limited and restrained to one of the many things it 
significth, as when we say, This mant pointing to him, or giving him 
his proper name, or in some such way.' — Human Nature, chap. r. 
pp. 2$, 26, 

We shall have occasion to «ee, in the course of this inquiry, how 
exactly Berkeley's account of the process of abetraction, in con- 
tradiction to Locke's opinion, corresponds in every particular with 
this passage of our author. To return to hU account of truth, 
reason, &c. 

■When two names are joined together into a consequence or 
affirmation, by the help of this little verb, iV, as thus : a man ii a 
iiving creature \ if the latter name, living creature, signify all that the 
former name, man, signiSeth, then the affirmation or consequence is 
true; otherwise false. For True and False arc attributes of speech, 
not of things. And where speech is not, there is neither truth nor 
falsehood. Hrror there may be, as when we expect that which shall 
not be, or suspect what has not been : but in neither case can a man 
be charged with untruth. 

•Seeing, then, that truth consisteth in the right ordering of names 
in our affirmations, a man that seeketh precise truth had need to 
remember what every name he uses stands for, and to place it accord- 
ingly : or else be will find himself entangled in words, as a bird in 
lime-twiga. And therefore in Geometry (which is the only science 
that it has pleased God hitherto to bestow on mankind) men begin 
at settling the significations of their words, which settling of significa- 
tions they call definitions, and place them in the beginning of their 
reckoning. By this it appears how necessary it h for any man that 
aspires to true knowledge to examine the defmitions of former authors, 
and either to correct them when they are negligently set down, or to 
make them himself. For the errors of definition multiply themselves 
according as the reckoning proceeds ; and lead men into abstirdities 
which they at last see, but cannot avoid without reckoning anew from 
the bcgiiming. From whence it happens that they which trust to 
books do as they that cast up many little sums into a greater, without 

4» 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



consideriDg wbethrr thoae little sami were rightly cast ap or not, and 
at Last finding the error Tistble, and not mistrusting their 6m grounds, 
know DOt which way to clear themselves, but spend time in fluttering 
over their books, aa birds chat entering by the chimney, and fiodtng 
themselves enclosed in a chamber^ flutter at the false light of a glaas 
window, for want of wit to consider which wny they came lo. So 
that in the right definition of names, lies the first use of speech, which 
is the acquisition of science, and in wrong or "o definitions lies the 
Snt abuse, from which proceed all false and senseless tenets ; which 
make them that take their instruction from the authority of books and 
not from their own meditations, to be as much below the condition of 
ignorant men, as men endued with true science are above it. For 
between true science and erroneous doctrines, ignorance is in the 
middle. Natural sense and imagination are not subject to absurdity- 
Nature itself cannot err ; and as men abound in copiousness of 
language, so they become more wise or more mad than ordinary. 
Nor is it possible without letters for any man to become either ex- 
cellently wise or (unless his memory be hurt by disease or ill con- 
stitution of organs) excellently foolish. For words arc wise men's 
counters, they do but reckon by them : but they are the money of 
fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, a 
Thomas Aquinas, or any other docto' whatsoever. 

' Subject to names is whatsoever can enter into, or be considered in 
an account, and be added one thing to another to make a sum, or 
subtracted one from another and leave a remairKlcr, The Latins 
called accounts of money ratwnrj, and accounting, ratiocination and 
that which we in bills or books of accounts call ifemjf they call nominal 
or names; and thence it seems to proceed that they extended the 
word rutio to the faculty of reckoning in all other things. The 
Greeks have hut one word, A.oyos for both speech and reason, not 
that they thought there was no speech without reason, but no reason 
without speech : and the act of reasoning they call syllogism, which 
signi&eth summing up (or putting together) the consequences of one 
saying to another. For reason is nothing but reckoning (that is, 
adding and subtracting) of the consequences of general names agreed 
upon for the marking and signifying of our thoughts ; I say marking 
them, when we reckon by ourselves, and signi^ng them, when we 
demonstrate or approve our reckonings to other men. 

* And as in arithmetic, unpractised men must, and professors them- 
selves may, often err, and cast up false, so also in any other subject 
of reasoning, the ablest, most attentive, and most practised men may 
decdve themselves, and infer false conclusions : not but that reasoo 
itaelf is always right reason, as well as arithmetic is a certain and 

43 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



iafalUblc art. But no one man's reuoo, nor the reason of any 
number of men makes the certainty : no more than an account is 
therefore well caa up, because a great many men have unanimously 
approved it. And, therefore, as when there is a controversy in an 
account, the parties must by their own accord set up for right reason 
the reason of some arbitrator or judge, so it is in all debates of what 
kind soever : and when men that think themselves wiser than all 
others, clamour and demand right reason for judge, yet seek no more 
but that things should be determined by no other men's reason but 
their own, it is a« intolerable in the society of men as it is in play, 
after trump is turned, to use for trump on every occasion that suit 
whereof they have most in their hand. For they do nothing else that 
will have every of their passions, as it comes to bear sway in them, 
to be taken for right reason, and that in their own controversies, 
betraying their want of right reason by the claim they lay to it. 

* When a man reckons without the use of words, which may be 
done in particular things (as when upon the sight of any one thing, 
we conjecture what was likely to have preceded, or is likely to follow 
upon it), if that which he thought likely to have preceded it, hath 
not preceded it, this is called error, to which even the most prudent 
men are subject. But when we reason in words of general signi^ca- 
tion, and fall upon a general inference which is false, though it be 
comn)only called error, it is indeed an absurdity or senseless speech. 
For error is but a deception in presuming that somewhat is past, or to 
come, of which, though it were not past, or not to come, yet there 
was no impossibility discoverable. But when we make a general 
assertion, unless it be a true one, the possibility of it is inconceivable. 
And words whereby we conceive nothing but the sound, arc those we 
call absurd, iniigniiicant, and nonsense. And, therefore, if a man 
should talk to nie of a round quadrangle^ or accidents of bread in chtetty 
or immateritd iuhitanctSy or of a free juhjtclj A free ttriJ/, or any free but 
free from being hindered by opposition ; I should not say he were in 
an error, but that his words were without meaning, that is to say, 
absurd.' — Chap. iv. v., pp. 15, 18, &c. 

The account of the passions and affcctionh which follows next in 
order, is the same in almost every particular as that which is given in 
modern treatises on this subject, excejit that Mr. Hobbcs seems to 
make curiosity or the desire of knowledge, an original pasKiun of the 
mind, jicculiar to man. From this part 1 shall only quote two passages, 
and tlien proceed to his treatise on the* Doctrine of Necessity,* which 
will conclude my account of this author. 

The first passage is the one from which Locke has copied hit 
famous definition of the difference between wit and judgment. After 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

bbMrnng (Chap, viti.) that the diffcrcacc of mcn't talents does not 
depetid on natural capacity, which, he sa^, h nothing else but sense, 
wherein men differ fio little from one another, or from brutes, that it 
is not worth the reckoning, he goc» on : 

■ This difference of quickness in imagining is caused by the difference 
of men's passions, that love and dishke, some one thing, some another, 
and therefore Nome men's thoughts run one way, some another, and 
are held to and obKrve differently the things that pass through their 
imagination. And whereas in this succession of thoughts there is 
nothing to observe in the things they think on, but either in what 
ihcy be like one another or in what they be unlike — those that 
obserrc their similitudes, in case they be such as are but rarely 
observed by others, are said to have a good wit, by which is meant 
on this occasion a good fancy. But they that observe their differences 
and dissimilitudes, which Is called distinguishing and discerning and 
judging between thing and thing, in case such discemiog be not easy, 
arc said to have a good judgment ; and particularly, in matter of 
coDTcrsauon and business, wherein times, places, and persons are to 
be discerned, this virtue is called discretion. The former, that is, 
fancy, without the help of judgment, is not commended for a virtue, 
but the latter which is judgment or discretion, is commended for 
itielf, without the help of fancy.' p. 32. This dcfinitioD, which 
Locke took entire from our author without acknowledgment, and 
which has been so often referred to, is eridently false, for as Harris, 
the author of •Hermes,' has very well observed, the finding out the 
equality of the three angles of a triangle to two right ones would 
upon (he principle here stated, be a piece of wit instead of an act of 
the understanding or judgment, and * Euclid's Elements * a collection 
of epigrams.^ The other passage which I proposed to quote chiefly 
as an instaDce of our author s power of imagination, is as follows. In 
Speaking of the degree of madness, as in fanatics and others, he says : 

' The patugc in Locke is h follows 1 

* If ia having our idrai ia the memory ready at han<l, contutt quickncu of 
psru, in thi* of hxvin^'chcm uncoofuKd and being ible nicely to i4litin|:uiib one 
thing from mother, where there ii but the Uait difference, coniials in a yrest 
measure the ructncM of judjiment and clearnru o( rcunn, which ii (o be obierved 
in one roao above another. And bcncc pcrhapi may be given some reason o{ that 
oommoo observation that men who have a gresi deal of wit and prompt memorici, 
hsvc not alwayi the clearcit judgment, or deeprat reaion. For wtt lying most ia 
tbc aMcmblafEC of ideal, and putting them together with tjuickneii and variety, 
wheretn can be found any rescniblsncc or cangniUy, thereby to make up pleatatil 
pictyrc* and aj;reeablc viiloni in the fancy ; judgment on the contrary lie* quite 
on the other tide, in separating carefully one from another ideai wherein can be 
found the least dilTercoce, thereby to avoid being milled by similitude and by 
affinity to take one ibiag for uotbcr.' — LsrVf £ii«y, voL i. p. 143. 

45 




ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 

' Though the effect of folly in them that are possessed of an optaioa 
of being intpircd be not always risible in one nun« by any very 
extravagant action that procccdeth from such passion, yet when many 
of them conipire together, the rage of the whole multitude is visible 
enough. For what greater argument of madness can there be than 
to clamour, strike, and throw stones at our best friends i Yet this is 
somewhat less tlian such a multitude will do. For they will clamour, 
tight against, and destroy those, by whom, all their lifetime before, 
they have been protected and secured from injury. And if this be 
madness in the multitude, it is the same in every particular man. 
For as in the midst of thr sea, though a man perceive no bound of 
that part of the water next hira, yet he is well assured that part con- 
tributes as much to the roaring of the sea as any other part of the 
same quantity, so also though we perceive no great unquietness in one 
or two men, yet we may be well assured that their singular passions 
are parts of the seditious roaring of a troubled nation.' Uven Mr. 
Burke did ant disdain to borrow one of Hobbes's images. The 
author of the ' Leviathan ' compares those who attempt to reform a 
decayed commonwealth to * the foolish daughters of Pclias who 
desiring to renew the youth of their decrepit father did by the 
counsel of Medea cut him in pieces and boil him, together with 
strange herbs, but made not of him a new man.' 

I think tliis is better expressed than the same allusion in Burkej 
which is I dare aay well known to my readers. 

I shall not here enter into the doctrine of Liberty and Necessity, 
which Hobbes has stated with great force and precision as a general 
question of cause and effect, and without any particular reference to 
his mechanical theory of the mind, as I shall fully investigate thii 
subject in my next Essay. 

I have thus taken a review of the metaphysical writings of Hobbes, 
as far as was necessary to establish what I at first proposed, namely, 
the general conformity, and almost entire coincidence between his 
opinions, and the principles of the modem system of philosophy. 
The praise of originality at least, of boldness and vigour of mind, 
belongs to him. The strength of reason which his application of a 
general principle to explain almost all the phenomena of human nature 
implies, can hardly be surpassed. The truth of the system is another 
question, which I shall hereafter proceed to consider. 

I will tirst, however, distinctly enumerate the leading principles of 
his philosophy, as they are to be found in Hobbes, and in the latest 
writers of the same School. They arc, I conceive, as follows: 

I. That all our ideas arc derived from external objects, by means 
of the senses alone. 

46 



ON THE WRITINGS OF HOBBES 



^ 



X. That a< Dothing exiits out of the miod but matter and mottoa, 
lo it ii itself with all its operations oothiog but matter and motioa. 

3. That thoughu are single^ or that we can think, of only one 
object at a time. In other wordSf that there is no comprehensiTc 
power or faculty of underttanding in the rotnd. 

4. That we have no general or abstract ideas. 

5. That the only principle of connexion between one thought and 
another is aisociation, or their previous connexion in scnw. 

6. That reason and understanding depend entirely on the mechaninu 
of language. 

7 and 8. That the sense of pleasure and pain is the sole spring of 
action, and eelftnterest the source of all our alfectioni. 

9. That the mind acts from a mechanical or physical necessity, 
OTcr which it has no controul, and coofle<]Ucntly is not a moral or 
accouDubIc agent. — The manner of stating and reasoning upon this 
point is the only circumstance of imporunce in which modern writers 
difiier from Hobbes. 

10. That there is no ditfcrcnce in the natural capacities of men« 
the mind being originally passive to all inipressioQS alike, and becoming 
whatever it is from circumstances. 

All of these positions it is my intention to oppose to the utmost of 
my ability. Except the first, they are most or all of them either 
denied or doubtfully admitted by Locke. And as it is his admission 
of the £nc principle which has opened a door, directly or indirectly, 
to all the rest, I shall devote the Essay next but one lo an cxamina* 
tion of the account which he gives of the origin of our ideas from 
sensation. 

It may perhaps be thought, that the neglect into which Hobbes's 
metaphysical opinions have fallen was originally owing to the obloquy 
excited by the misanthropy and despotical tendency of his political 
writings. But it seems to me that he has been almost as hardly dealt 
with in the one case as in the other. 

As to his principles of government, this may at least be said for 
them* that they are in form and appearance very much the same with 
those detailed long after in Rousseau's * Social Contract,' and evidently 
K^gested the plan of that work, which has never been considered as 
a defence of tyranny. The author indeed requires an absolute sub- 
mission in the subject to the laws, but then it ib to be in consequence 
of his own consent to obey them. Every man is at least tttpposed to 
be his own lawgiver. 

Secondly, as to the misanthropy with which he is charged, for 
having made fear the actual foundation and cement of civil society, he 
has 1 think made his own a])ology very aatis&ctorily in these words : 

47 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

* It may seem strange to some man that hath not well weighed 
these things, that nature should thus disKOciate and render men apt to 
iarade and destroy one another; and he may therefore, not trusting 
to the inference made from the passions, desire perhaps to have the 
same confirmed by experience. Let him therefore consider with 
himself — when taking a journey he arras himself, and seeks to go 
well accompanied ; when going to sleep he locks his doors ; when 
eren in his house, he locks his chests, and this when be knows there 
be laws and public oRicers, armed to revenge all injuries that shall be 
done him ; — what opinion I say, he has of his fellow subjects when he 
rides armed, of his fellow citizens when he locks his doors, and of 
his children and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not 
then accuse mankind as much by his actions as 1 do by my words ? 
Yet neither of us accuse man's nature in it.' — Leviathany p. fiz. 

It is true the bond of civil government according to his account, is 
very different firom Burke's •/»// col/ar of social esteem^* and ukes 
away the sentimental part of politics. But I confess I see nothing 
liberal in this * order of thoughts,' as Hobbes elsewhere expresses it, 
' the crime, the officer, the prison, the judge and the gallows,' which 
is nevertheless a good description of the nature and end of political 
institutions. 

The true reason of the fate which this author's writings met with 
was that his views of things were too original and comprehensive to 
be immediately understood, without passing through the hands of 
several successive generations of commentators and interpreters. 
Ignorance of another's meaning is a sufficient cause of fear, and fear 
produces hatred : hence arose the rancour and suspicion of bis 
adversaries, who, to quote some fine tines of Spenser, 

* Stood all astonied like a sort of steers 

'Mongst whom some beast of stnuige and foreign race 
Unwares is chanced, far straying from his peers : 
So did their ghastly gaze betray their hidden fears.* 



■ 

I 
I 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

Ih this Essay I shall give the best account I can of the question 
concerning liberty and necessity from the writings of others, and 
afterwards add a few remarks of my own on the explanation of the 
terms employed in this controversy. Of Mr. Hobbes's discourse 
on this subject, I should be nearly disposed to say with Gassendii 
when another work of hia, *De Cive,' was presented to him, 
+8 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



» 



' This treatise, though amall ia bulk, is in my judgment the very 
marrow of philoiiophy.' In order to give a clear and satisfactory 
new of the tjuestioo, I shall be obliged to repeat some things I hare 
before stated, for which the importance of the subject as wet! as other 
circumstances will* I hope, be a suHicient excuse. 

The doctrine of necessity is stated by this author with great force 
and precision ua a general question of cause and effect, and with 
scarcely any particular reference to his mechanical theory of the 
mind. From this naked simple view of the matter, I cannot con- 
sistently with truth withhold my full and entire assent. The ground- 
work, the pure basis of the doctrine is in my opinion incontestable ; 
it cannot be denied without oTcrtuming all the rules of science, as 
well as the plainest dictates of the understanding : whoever atucks 
it there in its stronghold, will only injure the cause he espouses. It 
is that rock upon which whoever falls will be dashed to pieces. But 
though I cannot pretend to undermine the foundation, yet I may 
attempt to shake some parts of the superstructure, and to clear away 
the crust of materialism which has grown over it. In my opinion, 
the representations which have commonly been given of the subject 
by the writers on both sides of the argument are almost equally 
errooeous, and their opposite conclusions built on an equal mis- 
conception of the true principle of necessity. By the principle of 
moral or philosophical necessity is meant then that the mind is in- 
variably governed by certain laws which determine all its operations ; 
or in other words, that the regular succession of cause and effect is 
not confined to mere matter, while the impulses of the will are left 
quite unaccounted for, self caused, perfectly contingent and fantastical. 
We in general attribute tho&e things to chance the causes of which 
we do not understand, both in mind and matter. But as there is a 
greater latitude and inconstancy in the one than in the other, inso- 
much that we can hardly ever predict with certainty the effect of 
particular motived on the mind^ the opinion of chance, arbitrary 
inclination, or self-determination had gained much deeper root with 
respect to the operations of mind than to those of matter. The 
fallacy of this opinion Hobbes has exposed in a masterly, and I think 
unanswerable manner, and without running into those paradoxical 
conclusions from the first position which later necessarians have 
deduced from it. He aHirms that necessity is perfectly consistent 
vnth human liberty ; that is, that the most strict and inviolable con- 
nexion of cause and effect does not prevent the full, free, and un- 
restrained development of certain powers in the agent, or take away 
the distinction between the nature of virtue and vice, praise and blame, 
reward and punishment, but is the foundation of all moral reasoning. 

VOL. XI. : D 49 




ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



Except Dr. Jonathao Edwards, he U the only professed necessarun 
that I know of who has oot been led, by the customary use of 
language, to qail the original definition of the term, and to slide from 
a philosophical into a vulgar and practical necessity. But I will 
state his rcasoniog in his own words, which are the bcit. They arc 
as follows : 

* My opinion about Liberty and Necessity, 

' Firsti I conceive that when it cometh into a man's miod to do or 
not to do some certain actioQ, if he have no time to deUberate, the 
doing it or abstaining necessarily follows the present thought he hath 
of the good or evil consequences thereof to himself; as, for example, 
in sudden anger the action shall follow the thought of rcrcnge ; tn 
sudden fear, the thought of escape ; also when a man hath time to 
deliberate, but dcliberateth not, because never any thing appeared that 
could him make doubt of the consequence, the action follows hU 
opinion of the goodness or harm of it. These actions I call volun- 
tary, because these actions that foUovj immeJiately the last appetite are 
roluntary, are here : where is only one appetite that one is the last. 

* Scco/tilfyt I conceive when a man deliberates whether he shall do a 
thing or not do it, that be does nothing else but consider whether it 
be belter for himself to do it or not to do it ; and to consider an 
action, is to imagine the consequences of it both good and evil ; from 
whence is to be inferred, that cicliberation is nothing else but alternate 
imagination of the good and eril sequels of an action, or (which is 
the same thing) alternate hope and fcar, or alternate appetite to do or 
quit the action of which he deliberateth. 

^Thirdly., I conceive that in all deliberations, that is to say, in all 
alternate succession of contrary appetites, the last is that which we 
call the will, and is immediately next before the doing oi the action, 
or next before the doing of it become impossible. All other 
appetites to do, and to quit, that come upon a man during his delibera- 
tions, arc called intentions, and inclinations, but not wills, there being 
but one will, which also in this case may be called the last will, 
though the intentions change often. 

* Fourthly^ I conceive that those actions which a man is said to do 
upon deliberation, are said to be voluntary, and done upon choice and 
election, so that voluntary action, and action proceeding from 
election is the same thing ; and that of a voluntary agent, it is alt 
one to say, he is free, and to say^ he hath not made an end of 
deliberating. 

' Fifthly, I conceive liberty to be rightly defined in this manner ; 
liberty is the absence of all the impediments to action that are not 
contamed in tlie nature and intrinsical quality of the agent, as for 

50 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



lid tu dcKcnd freely, 



ha»e liberty 



I 

I 



~«xaniplc, the water 

dlnccad by the channel of the river, because there is no ira- 
pedimetit that way, but not acroBfi, because the banks are im- 
pediments, and though the water cannot ascend, yet men never say it 
vnaiM the liberty to ascend, but the faculty or power, bccauac the 
impediment is in the nature of the water, and intrinsical. So also 
we say, he that 16 tied wants the liberty to go, because the im- 
pediraent is not in him, but in bis bands; whereas we say not so 
of him that is sick or lame, because the impediment is in himself. 

* Sixthly y I conceive that nothing taketh beginning from itself, but 
from the action of some other immediate agent without itself. And 
tibat, therefore, when first a man hath an appetite or will to something, 
to which immediately before he had no appetite oor will, the cause of 
hi* will, is not the will itself, but something else not in his own 
dtfpoiiDg ; so that whereat it is out of controversy, that of voluoury 
actions the will is the necessary cause, and by this which is said, the 
will is also caused by other things whereof it disposcth not, it 
followeth, that voluntary actions have all of them necessary causes, 
and therefore are necessitated. 

' Seventh/y^ I hold that to be a sufficient cause, to which nothing is 
wanting that 13 needful to the producing of the effect. The same 
also is a necessary cause. For if it be possible that a sufficient cause 
shall not bring forth the effect, then there wanteth somewhat which 
wu needful to the producing of it, and so the cause was not suifi- 
dent ; but if it be impossible that a sullicietit cause should not pro- 
duce the effect, then is a sufficient cause a necessary cause (for that 
it said to produce an effect necessarily that cannot but produce it;) 
beoce it is manifest, that whatsoever is produced, is produced 
necessarily: for whatsoever is produced hath had a sufficient cause 
to produce it, or else it had nut been ; and therefore also voluntary 
actions are neccsaiutcd. 

* Lastly, I hold that the ordinary dcfmition of a free agent, 
namely, that a free agent, is that, which, when all things arc present 
which are needful to produce the effect, can nevertheless not produce 
it, implies a contradiction, and is nonsense; being as much as to say, 
ihe cause may be nifficicot, that is to say necessary, and yet the effect 
ifaail not follow. 

* My Reasons. — For the first fire points, wherein it is explicated 
— I. what spontaneity b; 2. what deliberation is; 3. what will, 

Iiropension and appetite are; .}. what a frcc-agent is; $. what 
ibeny is ; there can no other proof be offered but every man's own 
experience, by reflection on himself, and remembering what he him- 
self meaneth when he saith an action is spontaneous : a man 




ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



delibcratCB : such is his will : that agent or that actioD ii hce. 
he that reHecteth to on himself, cannot but be satistiedi that delibera- 
tion is the consideration of the good or eril setjuels of an action to 
come; that by spontaneity is meant inconsiderate action (or else 
nothing is meant by it] ; that will is the last act of our deliberation i 
that a free-agent is he that can do if he will, and forbear if he will ; 
and that liberty is the absence of exicrnal impcdimentii. But, to 
those that out of custom speak not what they Lonceire, but what they 
hear, and arc not able, or will not take the pains to consider what 
ihey think when ihcy bear such words, no argument can be suffi- 
cicot ; because experience and matter of fact is not verified by other 
men's arguments, but by every man's own sense and memory. For 
example, how can it be proved that to love a thing and to think it 
good is all one, to a man that hath not marked his own meaning by 
those words ? or how can it be proved that eternity is not nunc tiam 
to a man tliat says those words by custom, and never considers how 
he can conceive the thing in his mind ? Also the sixth point, that 
a man cannot imagine any thing to begin without a cause, can no other 
way be made known, but by trying how be can imagine it ; but if he 
try, he shall fmd at much reason (if there be no cause of the thing) 
to conceive it should be^in at one time as another, that he hath equal 
rcMon to think it should begin at all timets, which is impossible, and 
therefore he must think there was some special cause why it began then, 
ritther than sooner or later, ureise that it began never, but was eternal. 
• Por the seventh point, which is, that all events have necessary 
causes, it is there proved in that they have su^icient causes. Further, 
let us in this place also suppose any event never so casual, as the 
throwing (for example) "amesacc" upon a pair of dice, and see if 
it must not have been necessary before it was thrown. For seeing it 
was thrown, it had a beginning, and consequently a sufficient cause to 
produce it, consisting partly in the dice, partly in outward things, as 
ihc posture of the |wrts of the hand, the me;i«ure of force applied by 
the caster, the posture of the parts of the table, and the like. In 
Num, tlierc was nothing wanting which was necessarily requisite to 
the producing of that particular cast, and consequently the cast was 
neccuarily thrown ; for if it had not been thrown, there had wanted 
tiomewhat requisite lu the throwing of it, and so the cause had not 
been sufficient. In the like manner it may be proved that every 
other accident, how contingent soever it seem, or how voluntary 
soever it be, is produced necessarily. The same may be proved also 
in this manner. Let the case be put, for example, of the weather : 
'lis necessary that to-morrow it shall rain or not rain. If, therefore, 
it be not necessary it shall rain, it is neccssarv it shall not rain, other- 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



wt«e there 19 no necessity that the propOBirioo, it shall rain or not 
rain, »Kould be true. I know there be some that say, it may neceft- 
safily be true that one of the two shall come to pa&s, but not, singly 
that it iball rain, or that it shall not rain, which is as much as to say, 
one of them is necessary, yet neither of them is necessary ; and 
iherefore to seem to avoid that absurdity, they make a distinction, 
that neither of them is true determinate, but indeterminate, which di»- 
tinciioD either signifies no more but this, one of them is true, but we 
know not which, and so the necessity remains, though we know it 
not ; or if the meaning of the distinction he not that, it hath no 
meaning, and they might as well have said, one of them is true 
tiurice, but neither of them, tu patultce. 

*■ The last thing in which also consisteth the whole controversy, 
namely, that there is no such thing as an agent, which when all 
things requisite to action are present, can nevertheless forbear to pro- 
duce it; or (which is all one) that there is no such thing as freedom 
from necessity, is easily inferred from that which hatli been before 
alleged. For if it be an agent it can work, and tf it work there is 
nothing wanting of what is requisite to jiroduce the action, and con- 
sequently the cause of the action is sufficient, and if sufficient, then 
alio necessary, as hath been proved before. And thus you see how 
the inconveniences, which it is objected must follow upon the holding 
of necessity, are avoided, and the necessity itself demonRtratively 
proved. To which I could add, if I thought it good logic, the 
inconvenience of denying necessity, as that it desiroyeth both the 
decrees and the prescience of God Almighty; for whatsoever God 
hath purposed to bring to pass by man, as an instrument, or forcseeth 
shall come to pass; a man, if he have liberty as hath been aHirmed 
from oecessiution, might frustrate, and make not to come to pass, and 
God should either not foreknow it, and not decree it, or he should 
foreknow such things shall be, as shall never be, and decree that 
which shall never come to pass. This is all that hath come into my 
miiul touching thie question since I last considered it.' 

The letter from which the foregoing extract is uken is addressed 
to the Marquis oi Newcastle, and dated at Rouen in 1651, twenty 
years before itie publication of Spinoza's most exact and beautlhil 
demonstration of the same principle. Some of Hobbes's antagonists 
had charged him with having borrowed his arguments from Mar- 
•ennus, a French author ; to which in one of his controversial tracts 
Hobbes replies with some contempt, that this Marsennus had heard 
him talk on the subject when he was in Paris, and had borrowed 
them from him. Dr. Priestley has done justice to Hobbes on this 
question of necessity, and I suspect more than justice in denying that 

53 




ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

the Stoics were acquainted with the »amc principle. At any rate, 
the modem commentators on the subject (and Dr. Priestley among 
them) have added nothing to it but absurdities, from which our 
author's logic protected him ; for he seldom reasoned wrong but 
when he reasoned from wrong premises. As tliii c|uef(tion tB one of 
the most intercftting in the history of philosophy, I shall perhaps be 
excused for adding one more extract (of considerable length) to 
prove that HDbbe5 is not, in this instance, chargeable with the prac- 
tical inferences which have been made from his doctrine. In answer 
to the objections of Bishop Bramhall, with whom he had a con- 
troversy on the subject, he says : 

* Of the arguments from reanon, the first is that which his Lord 
ship saith is drawn from Zeno's beating of his man, which is there- 
fore called jir^umentum BarvS/tum, that is to say, a wooden argument. 
The story is this : Zeno held that all actions were necessary : his 
nun therefore being for some fault beaten, excused himself upon the 
necessity of it: to avoid this excuse, his master pleaded likewise the 
necessity of beating him. So that not he that maintained, but he 
that derided the necessity was beaten, contrary to that his Lordship 
would infer. 

* The second argument is taken from certain inconveniences which 
his Lordship thinks would follow such an opinion. 

* The first inconvenience, he says, is this, that the laws which 
prohibit any action will be unjust. 

*3. That all consultations are rain. 

* 3. That admonitions to men of understanding are of iko raore uae 
than to children, fools, and madmen. 

* 4. That praise, dispraise, reward and punishment are in rain. 

* 5 and ^. That counsels, arts, arms, books, tnstrumeots, study, 
tutom, mcilicinc5 arc in vain>' 

Hobbcs's ADiwcr to these coacliuioM is I thiak quite satii&ctory. 
He t«y»— 

*Tu which arfjumeats his Lordship, expecting I should answer by 
uying, ** the ignorance of the erent were enough to make us use the 
niennsi*' adds (as it were a reply to my answer foreseen) these words, 
** ^Ut .' Ae«* ihtmtJ 9mr imI i ise oww y the tvemt ie a tt^unx motive to 
HMif ut UH the mttnu ^ ** Wherein his Lordship says right : but ray 
unswrr in not that which he ex[>ectrth. I answer : 

* I'irst, that the necessity of an actkw doth not make the laws that 
iirohibit it unjust. To let pus that not the oecenttr. but the will to 
[trrsk the law mnketh the action un jaM» bccmoe the Uw regprdeth the 
will And no other antecedent cause of actioa, ood to let pais that no 
Uw can possibly be unjust, inasmuch ss every man nuketh (by his 

S4 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

coiweot) the Uw he ia bouod to keep, and which consequently must 
be just, unJesK a man can be unjust to himself; — I say, what necessary 
cause soever precede an action, yet if the action be forbidden^ he that 
doth it willingly may be justly punished. For instance, suppose the 
law on pain of death prohibit stealing, and that there be a man who 
by the strength of temptation is necessitated to steal, and is thereupon 
put to death, docs not this punishment deter others from stealing? 
Is ii not 3 cause that others steal noi ^ Doth it not frame and make 
their wills to justice ? To make the law is therefore to make a cause 
of justice, and to necessitate justice, and consequently 'tis no injustice 
to make such a law. The intention of the law is not to grie?e the 
delinquent for what ts past and not to be undone ; but to make him 
and others juit that else would not be so ; and respecteth not the evil 
act past, bat the good to come. Insomuch as without the good inten- 
tion for the future, no past act of a delinquent would justify his killing 
in the sight of God. 

' Secondly, I deny that it maketh consultations to be vain. *Tis 
the consultation that causeth a man and necessitateth him to choose 
to do one thing rather than another : so that unless a man say that 
that cause is in vain which necessitateth the cfl^ect^ he cannot infer 
the super fluousoess of consultation out of the necessity of the election 
proceeding from it. But it scemeth his Lordship reasons thus : *' If I 
must do this rather than that, I shall do it though I consult not at all ; '* 
which is a false proposition and a false consequence, and no better than 
this; ** If I shall live til! to-morrow, I shall live till to-morrow, though I 
run myself through with a sword to-day." If there be a necessity that 
an acu'on shall be done, or that any effect shall be brought to pass, it 
does not therefore follow that there is nothing necessarily requisite as 
a means to bring it to pass ; and therefore when it is determined that 
one thing shall be chosen before another, 'tis determined also for 
what cause it shall be chosen* which cause for the most part is 
deliberation or consultation ; and therefore consultation is not in rain, 
and itxleed the less in vain by how much the election is more 
necessitated, if morr and iut had any place in necessity. 

'The same answer is to be given to tlie third supposed incon- 
venience, namely, that admonitions arc in vain ; for admonitions are 
parts of consultation, the admonitor being a counsellor for the time to 
him that is admonished. 

• The fourth pretended inconvenience is, that praise, dispraise, 
reward and punishment will be in vain. To which T answer, that 
for praise and dispraise, they depend not at all on the necessity of the 
action praised or dispraised. For what is it else to praise, but to say 
a thing is good ; good, I say, for me or for some body else, or for 

S5 




the sute aod comnKM) wealth ? And what b k ti> ny an kctioB ii 
good* but to cay it is as I would wish, or as aootber voold hare it, 
or accordiog to the Mrill of the »ute, that is to sn, accordiog co tlie 
bw. Doci my Lord think that do action can pitaae me or him or 
^ commonwealth, that ihould proceed from mcemity ? Thiagi 
may therefore be oecefsary, aod yet prauewottfay» a* dao ■rumiij. 
and yet dispraised, and neither of them both in vaio, htcmai prabe 
and disprai»e, and likewise reward and ponishinefll, do by example 
make and conform the wilt to good aod eril. It was a rery great 
praise id my opinion that V'eUehu Patercnhu gives Caio, when be 
mya that he was good by nature, et tpua oGitr hm mam pttmt. 

*To the last objection, that counieJa, arts, arms, natrmncBts, 
books, study, medicine&, and the like would be snpetflaims tSie mme 
Uttwcr tetTCS as to the former, that is to say, thjt tlM COSiatautmi^ 
jf ^ tfnt thaii comt to fat, then k tbJI tmm t» pmu mitteml ki 
tmuts, IS a lalse one, and thoae things oanird comms, arts, anns, 
5tc. are the causes of those effects.' — Page 191. 

■ His Lordship's third argorocm consisceth in other mco n T m ieaces, 
which he saith will follow, namely, impiety, aod oegligeDOc of 
religious duties, as repentance aod zeal to God's scrrice, &c To 
which I answer as to the rest, that they follow doc I moat confess, 
if we consider the greuett pan of mankind, not as they abonld be, 
but as they are, that is, as men whom cidier the study of ac(|timDg 
wealth or preferment, or whom the appetite t^ttomtX delists or the 
iinpatietKre of meditation, or the rash embraciag of wrong principles 
biw mnde unapt to discnss the troth of thaaga; I mna^ I say, 
eonfrM that the dispute of tfass < nicsu n n w3l r^ber bait ihu help 
their piety, and therefore if his Lordsfam had not desired tim aiswer, 
I shoiUd not hare written it, nor do I write it bnt in hopes yoor 
Ltvilklup and his will keep it priTste. Kercfthclcss in rcwj truth, 
the necessity uf erenu does ooc of itself draw with it any impiety at 
1^1. For piety consisteth only in two tlimgs: one that we bonoor 
Go<.l in oar hearta. whkb ia, ibac «« tbink as highly of his power as 
wv can, (for to bMoor any thin| ia nodii^g dae fane to tUnfc it to be 
•f grrat power). The other n ibK «t sigM^ that bonoor and 
f«(Mm by our words aod nctioDS. wbkb it caDed nAmr, or vt>rafaip 
•f Owl. ' He thereforv tbift tblibtb cbat ail tbinga proceed from 
Qod*! riernal will, and cnaaB^pKody wtt oLnworj, oocs be not think 
Ood omnipotrni i Ooc* be not wiecai of bis power as highly as is 
MMtihh^ which is 10 honour God m Bmeb as may be in bis heart i 
Again* he thai ihinkcth acs is be not omre apt by attroal actt aod 
words to acknowWdgt it, than be xhm tbi^ctb otbervise ? Yet is 
iMi rxtrriMl •dMOwlc.^gment the toBae tbiag «bicb we call worship ; 



^ 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



■o that this opinioo fortifieA piety in both kinds, external and tDteraal, 
aod therefore Is far from destroying it. And for repentance, which 
i« nothing else but a glad returning into the right way, after the grief 
of being out of the way, though the cause that made him go astray 
were necrasary, 3ret there is oo reason why he should not grieve » 
and, agam, though the cause why he returned into the way were 
nccescary, there remaioeth stilt the cause of Joy. So that the 
neceuicy of the acting taketh away neither of those parts of re- 
pentance — grief for the error, and joy for returning/ — Tripoli p. 192. 

The author afterwards properly defines a moral agent to be one 
that acts from dchberation, choice, or wiJl, not from indi^crcncc ; 
and, speaking of the supposed iaconsiittcncy between choice and 
pecccsity, adds : 

'Commonly when we see and know the strength that moves us, 
we acknowledge necessity ; but when we sec not or mark not the 
force that moves us, we then think there is none, and that it is not 
causes but liberty that produceth the action. Hence it is that they 
tfaiok he doth not choose this that of necessity chooses it, but they 
might as well say, fire doth not bum, because it burns of necessity.' 

The general question is thus stated by Mr. HoUws in the beginning 
of his treatise : the point is not, he Hays, * whether a man can be a 
free agent ; that is to say, whether he can write or forbear, speak or 
be silent, according to his will, but whether the will to write, and the 
will to forbear, come upon him according to his will, or according to 
any thing else in his own power. 1 acknowledge this liberty, that 
I can do if I will ; but to say — I can will if I will, I take 10 be an 
ibsurd speech. In 6ne, that freedom which men commonly tind in 
books, that which tlie poets chaum in the theatres, and the shepherds 
on the mountains, that which the pastors teach in the pulpits, and the 
doctors in the universities, and that which the common people in the 
markets, aod all mankiiK) in the whole world do assent unto, is the 
same that I assent unto, namely, that a man hath freedom to do if he 
will, but whether he hath freedom to will is a question neither the 
bishop nor they ever thought on.' 

All in which I differ from Hobbes is, that I think there is a real 
freedom of choice and will, as well as of action, in the sense of the 
author, that is, not a freedom from ncces&ity or causes in either case, 
but a liberty in any given agent to exert certain powers without 
being controlled or impeded in their exercise by another ajient. 

HclvettuB aays, * It is true we can form a tolerably distinct idea of 
the word lilerty^ understood in a common sense, A man is free who 
is neither toiided with irona, nor confined in prison, nor intimidated 
like the slave by the dread of chastisement : in this sense, the liberty 

57 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

of a man consists in the free exercise of liis power : I Bay of his 
power, because it would be ridiculous to mistake for a want of tiberty 
the incapacity we are under to pierce the clouds like the eagle, to live 
under the water like the whale, or to become king, emperor, or pope. 
We have so far a aufHcienily clear idea of the word. But this is no 
longer the case when we come to apply liberty to the will. What 
must this liberty then mean ? We can only undersuod by it a free 
power of willing or not willing a thing : but this power would imply that 
there may be a will without motives, and consequently an effect with- 
out a cause. A philosophtcaJ treatise on the liberty of the will would 
be a treatise of effects without u cause.' — Hrlvttiui an tbe MinJ^ p. 44. 

Now I cannot perceive why there is any more difficulty in annexing 
a meaning to the word liberty, as it relates to the faculties of the mind 
than as it relates to those of the body, or why a treatise of the one 
should be a treatise of effects without a cause any more than of the 
other, if the distinction between liberty and necessity is lost in this 
case, it is not because liberty but because necessity can have no place 
in the will, or because we cannot easily put a padlock 00 the mind. 
If tbe prisoner who has his chains struck off, walks or rune, dancei 
or leaps, it this an instance of an elTect without a cause, because it ii 
an effect of liberty, or of what Heivetius calls the free exercise of 
his power ? Not that he can exert this power without means or 
motives, that is, without ground to move on, or limbs to move with, 
or breath to draw, or will to impel him, but * with all these means 
and appliances to boot ' he has a power to do certain things which 
his chains deprived him of the liberty of doing, but which the striking 
them off restores to him again. Why then, if liberty does not in its 
common sense ligni^ an effect without a cause, but the free exercise 
of a power, did it not signify the same thing or something similar as 
applied to the mind ^ Has the mind no powers, or are they necessarily 
impeded and hindered from operating ? My notion of a free agent, 
[ confess, is not that represented by Mr. Hobbes, namely, one that 
when all things necessary to produce the effect are present can never- 
rhelesfi not produce it ; but I believe a free agent of whatever kind, 
is one which where all things necessary to produce the effect are 
present, can produce it ; its own operation not being hindered by any 
tiling else. The body is said to be free when it haa the power to obey 
the direction of the will : so the will may be said to be free when it has 
the power to obey the dictates of the understanding. The absurdity of 
the libertarians is in supposing that liberty of action, and liberty of will 
have the same identical source, viz. the will ; or that as it is the will that 
moves the body, so it is the will that moves itself in order to be free. 

Mr. Locke's chapter 'Oa Power,* in the first volaroe of the 

58 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



ff contains hU account of liberty and necessity, and has been 
more found fault vitfa than any other part of his work ; I think 
without reason. He seems evidently to have admitted the definition 
of necessity, though he has avoided the name, which is not much to 
be wondered at, considering the misconception to which it is liable, 
and which can scarcely be separated from it in the closest rcasonioj;, 
nroch less as a term of general signification. In other words, he 
denies the power of the mind to act without a cause or motive, or, 
in any manner in any circumstances, from mere indifferency and 
abeolute self motion ; but he at the same time rejects the inference 
which has been drawn from this principle, that the mind is not an 
agent at all, but entirely subject to external force or blind impulse. 
What he has said is little more than an expansion of Hobbes's general 
deBCription of practical liberty, 'that it is a power to do, if we will.' 
Thus, according to Mr. I^ocke, it would not be so absurd to gi?e a 
restive horse the spur or the whip to make him go straight forward 
on a plain road, as it would be in order to make him leap up a 
precipice a hundred feet high. The one the horse has a power or 
liberty to do if he will, the other he has no power to do at any rate. 
That is, here are two sorts of impediments, one that may be over> 
come, and which it is right to take means to overcome, and another 
which cannot be overcome, aod which it is therefore absurd to 
meddle with. To say that these two necessities are in effect the 
same, is an abuse of language ; yet for not lumping them together in 
the dashing style of our modern wholesale dealers in paradox, Mr. 
Locke ha8 been made the subject of endless abuse and contumely. 
The dilTercnce between them, as slated by this author with great 
force and earnestnci'S of feeling, in truth conKtituteK all that men in 
general mean when they talk of freedom of will, and make it, as in 
this sense it is, the ground-work of morality. There are certain 
powers which the mind has of governing not only the actions of the 
body, but of regulating its own thoughts and desires, and it is to 
make us exert these powers that all the distinctions, rules and 
sanciions of morality have been established. It must be ridiadous 
I to attempt to make us do, what upon the face of the thing it was 
IJcnown we could not du; yet it is on this literal and unqualified 
interpretation of the term, as implying a flat impossibility of the con- 
trary, an utter incapacity and helplessness in the mind, a concurrence 
of causes foreign to the will itself, and irresistible in their effect, and 
with which it must therefore be in vain to contend, that most of the 
Lcoosequences from tl\e doctrine of necessity have been built ; such 
as that reward and punishment are absurd and improper, that virtue 
and vice are words without a meaning, that the asiassin is no more a 

59 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

mora] or accountable agent than the dagger which he uies, and many 
others of the same stamp. The sword and the assassin would be 
equally moral and accountable agentd, if they were both equally 
accessible to moral motives, that is, to reward and punishment, 
praise and blame, &c. ; but they arc not. This seems to be a 
distinction of great pith and moment. It is said to be a mere 
difference of words; at least it makes all the difference whether such 
motives as reward and punishment, praise and blame, should be 
applied or not, and this one should think was a difference of practice. 
It is objected, indeed, that still both are equally necessary agents. 
But this appears to me to be a confusion of words. It is in vain to 
exhort t^amc not to burn, or to be angry with poison for working : 
and it would be equally in vain to exhort men to certain actions or to 
resent others, if exhortation and resentment had no more effect upon 
them, that is, if they were really governed by the same sort of blind, 
phytical, unreasoning, unresisting necessity. In fact, the Latest 
necessarians have abandoned the true, original, philosophical meaning 
of the term} in which it implies no more than the connection between 
cause and effect, and have substituted for it the prejudiced notion of thetr 
adversaries, who confound it with mechanical necessity, * Bxed fate, 
foreknowledge absolute,* or the unconditional ^^i/ of omnipotence. 

The following extracts which I shall condense as much as T can 
consistently with the nature of the argument, will shew the view which 
Mr. Locke has taken of this subject. I would only observe, by the by, 
that I BO far agree with Hobbes and differ from Mr. Locke, in think- 
ing that liberty in the most extended and abstract sense is applicable 
to material as well as voluntary agents ; moral liberty, i.e. freedom 
of will evidently is not, because such agents have no such faculty. 

* All the actions that we have any idea of,* says my author, * re* 
ducing themselves to these two, viz. thinking and moving, so far as a 
man has a power to think or not to think, to move or not to move, 
according to the preference or direction of his own mind, so far is a 
man free. Wherever any jwrformance or forbearance are not equally 
in a man's power, wherever doing or not doing will not equally follow 
upon the preference of his mind, directing it, there he is not free, 
though perhaps the action may be voluntary. Where any particular 
action is not in the [xiwer of the agent, to be produced by him accord- 
ing to his volition, there he is not at liberty ; that agent is under 
necessity. So that lilxrty cannot be where there is no thought, no 
volition, no will ; but there may be thought, there may be volition 
there may be will, where there is no liberty. A little consideration 
of an obvious instance or two may make this clear. 

* A tennis-ball, whether in motion by the stroke of a racket, or 
60 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



iyiDg RCtU at rest, h not by any one taken to be a free agent. If we 
inquire into the reason, we shall find it is because we conceive not a 
tennis-ball to think ; and consequently not to have any volition, or pre- 
ference of motion to rest or xw versu ; and therefore has not liberty, 
ia not a free agent, but both iu motion and rest come under our idea of 
necessity, and are «o called. Likewise a man falling into the water (a 
bridge breaking under him) has not herein liberty, is not a free agent. 
For though he has votitton, though he prefers his not falling to falling, 
yet the forbearance of that motion not being in hia power, the stop or 
cessation of that motion follows not upon his volition ; and therefore 
therein he is not free. 80 a man striking himself or his friend by a 
convulsiTC motion of his arm, no body thinks he has in this liberty, 
every one pities him as acting by necessity and constraint.' 

Here I will just stop to observe that the stanch sticklers for 
neces«ity, who make up by an excess of zeal for their want of know- 
ledge, would read this passage with a smile of self-complacent con- 
tempt, and remark profoundly that whether the man struck his friend 
00 purpose, or from a convulsive motion, he was equallv under 
necessity, and the object of pity. Now whether he is an object 
of pity, I shall not dispute; but I conceive he is also an object of 
anger in the one case which he is not in the other, because anger 
will prevent a man's striking you again, but will not cure him of 
St. Vitus's dance. It is to this sort of indincrimioate, blind, senseless 
necessity which neutralizes all things and actions, and under the pre- 
tence of establishing the operation of causes, destroys the distinction 
between the different degrees and kinds of necessity, to which I do not 
profess myself a convert. 

To return. — ' As it is in the motions of the body,' proceeds Mr. 
Locke, * so it is tn the thoughts of our minds : where any one is such, 
that we have power to take it up or lay it by, according to the prefer- 
ence of the mind, there we are at liberty. Yet some ideas to the mind, 
like some motions to the body, are such as in certain circumstances it 
cannot avoid, nor obtain their absence by the utmost effort jt can use. 
.A man on the rack is not at lilierty to lay by the idea of pain, and 
divert bimsc'lf with other cunirmplations. And sometimes a boister- 
ous passion hurries our thoughts, as a hurricane does our bodies, 
without leaving us the liberty of thinking on other things which we 
would rather choose. But as soon as the mind regains the power to 
stop or continue, begin or forbear any of these motions of the body 
without, or of the mind within, according as it thinks fit to prefer 
either to tbe other, we then consider the man as free again.' 

* But freedom,' says my author, * unless it reaches farther than this, 
will not serve the turn ; and it passes for a good plea that a man is 

6t 




ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

not free fti «ll, if he is not as free to will, aa he is to act what he wills. 
Concerning a man's liberty, there yet therefore is raised this farther 
cjuestion, whether a man be free to will ? And as to that I imagine 
that a man in reepect of willing^ when any action in his power is once 
proposed to his thoughts aa presently [that is, immediately] to be 
done, cannot be free. The reason whereof is very manifest ; for it 
being unavoidable that the action depending on his will should exist 
or not exist^ and its existence or non-existence following perfectly the 
determtnatioD of his will, he cannot avoid willing the existence or 
non-existence of that action ; it is absolutely necessary that he will the 
one, or the other, i.e. prefer the one to the other, since one of them 
must necesBarily follow.'-— Page 246. 

This seems to be the weak part of Mr. Locke's reasoning, and is 
the only place, as I remember, where he has considered the certainty of 
the event as inconsistent with the practical Hberty for which he con- 
tends. At this mte, it must be given up altogether : there can be no 
such thing as liberty. For in all cases whatever, one determination 
must happen rather than another. In all cases whatever, we must 
choose either one way or another, or suspend our choice. Suspense and 
deliberation, as Helvetius and others have justly remarked, are in this 
sense equally necessary with precipitation of judgment. The actual 
or final event is in both cases the necessary consequence of preceding 
causes, but that does not destroy freedom of choice in either case, if 
the event depends upon the exercise of choice, whether the time 
allowed for the mind to choose in, be longer or shorter. If by liberty 
be meant the uncertainty of the event, then liberty is a non-entity : 
but if it be supposed to relate to the concurrence of certain powers of 
an agent in the production of that event, then ic is as true and as real 
a thing as the necessity to which it is thus opposed, and which consists 
in the exclusion of certain powers possessed by an agent from operating 
in the producing of any event. At the same time it must be granted, 
that the power of deliberation is the moat valuable privilege of our 
rational nature, and the great enlargement of the discursive faculty of 
the will. Mr. Locke seems only to have erred in mistaking a differ- 
ence of degree or extent for one of kind. The practical truth of the 
distinction is undeniable. His words are : — 

' The mind having in most cases, as is evident from experience, a 
power to suspend the execution and satisfaction oi any of its desires, 
and so all, one after another, is at liberty to consider the objects of 
them, examine them on all sides, and weigh them with others. In 
this lies the liberty man has ; and from the not using of it right comes 
all that variety of mistakes, errors, and faults, which we run into in 
the conduct of our lives, and our endeavours after happiness: whilst 

6a 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



we precipitate the determination of our wills, and engage too aoon 
before due examination. For during the sufipension of any dcfiire, 
before the will be determined to action, we have an opportunity to 
examine, view, and judge of the good or evil of what we arc going to 
do ; and when upon due examination we have judged, we have done 
our duty, all that we can or ought to do, in pursuit of our happiness ; 
aod it is not a fault, but a. perfection of our nature, to desire, will, and 
act, according to the last renult of a fair examination. This seems to 
me the source of all liberty ; in this seems to consist that which is (T 
think improperly) called yr^-^wV// — -fijay, vol. i. p. 264. 

Moral liberty, it should seem then, all the liberty which a man has 
or which he wants, does not after all consist in a power of indlfferency, 
or in a power of choosing, without regard to motives, but in a power 
of exciting his reason and of obeying it. There arc two general 
positions advanced by the author in the course of this inquiry, to 
neither of which 1 can agree; namely, that action always proceeds 
from uneasiness, and that we are perfect judges of present good aod 
cril. With respect to the first, it is true indeed that nothing can be 
an object of desire till wc suffer uneasiness from the want of it, but it 
19 just 3M true, that the want of any thing does not cause uneasiness in 
the mind, unless it is first an object of desire, or unless the prosjiect of 
it gives us pleasure. As to the second position, that wc cannot be 
deceived in judging of our actual sensations, it would be true, if the 
Bcnution and the judgment formed upon it were the same, but they 
Qcitlia are nor can be. Let any person smell to a rose, and look at 
a beautiful prospect or hear a fine piece of music at the same instant, 
and try to determine which of them gives him most pleasure. If 
he bas the least doubt or hesitation, the principle laid down by 
Mr. Locke cannot pass for an axiom. From not accurately distio- 
gnishing between sensation and judgment, some writers have been led to 
confound good and evil with pleasure and pain. Good or evil is 
properly that which gives the mind pleasure or pain on reflection, 
that is, which excites rational approbation or disapprobation. To 
consider these two things as either the same or in any regular pro- 
portion to each other, is I think to betray a very 6U[>erucial acquain- 
tance with human nature. Yet in defiance of the necessary distinction 
between the faculties by which wc feel and by which we judge, these 
moralists have laid it down as a fundamenul rule that all pleasures 
which arc so in themselves are equally good and commendable; yet 
ai these ideas relate solely to the reflex impression made by certain 
things on the understanding, to insist that we shall judge of them by 
an appeal to the senses, is unwisely to overturn the principle of the 
division of labour among our faculties, and to force one to do the office 

6J 



ON LIBERTV AND NECESSITY 



For tlu« Uiere seenu do more reason than for attciDptiDg 
I tm fiogen, to aee a sound, or feci a colour. 

'Oh ) trho can luint a stin-bcain to the blind; 



Or make hiin 



paint 

feel a 



shadow with his mind.' 



Yc< efat absurdity of the attempt arises only from the inaptitude of 
tlw tMgUi to the object. 

AjBong simple idcai Mr. Locke reckons that of power. It were 
to be wished that he had given it as simple a source as possible* vis. 
tbc feeling we have of it to our own minds, which he sometimes &eetns 
kklf ioclined to do, instead of rcferKog it to our observation of the 
■KressiTc changes which uke place in matter. It is by this means 
alone, that is, bv making it an original idea derived from within, like 
the sense of pleasure or pain, and quite distinct from the visible 
composition jiotl decomposition of other objects, that we can avoid 
being driven into an absolute scepticism with regard to cause and 
rtlVct. For Hume has, I think, demonstrated that in the mere 
mechanical series of sensible appearances, there is nothing to suggest 
this idea, or point out the indissoluble connection of one event with 
another, any more than tn the 6ies of a summer. We get this idea 
•olcly from the exertion of muscular or voluntary power in ourselves : 
whoever hw stretched forth his hand to an object, must have the idea 
of power. Under the idea of (>ower I include all that relates to what 
we call force, energy, weakness* ctfort, ease, difficulty, imp088ibility,&c. 
Accurdiiiglv, I fthould conceive that no man of strong passions, or 
great muKuUr aciiviiy would ever give up the idea of power. Hume, 
who terms to have discarded it with the least compunction, was 
AO my, indolent, good-tempered man, who did not care to stir out of 
hU armchair ; a languid, I<!picurean philosopher, of a reasonable 
corpulency, who was hurried away b^ no violent passions, or intense 
dcsirea, hut looked on most things with the same eye of Hstlcssness 
MmI imiitlerence. He was one of the subtlest and most metaphysical 
of all met J physicians. And perhaps he was so for the reason here 
■utcil. 'Inr Scotch in general are not metaphysicians: they have 
In tavl «lway« a purpose, thev aim at a particular point, they arc 
dctttminfd upon something beforehand. This gives a hardness and 
ritiidiiy to their understandings, and takes away that tremulous senbi- 
bjTtlY to evtty ilight and wandering impression which is neceasary to 
complete the tinr iuUnce of the mind, and enable us to follow all the 
lllfliihr tliictuatiuni uf ihuught through their nicest distinctions. 

'I'o lelurn to the doctrine of necewity. I shall refer to the 
kulhuiity o( but one more writer, who haa indeed exhausted the 
lubjw't^ and anticipated what few remarks I had to offer upon it : T 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

mean Jonathaa Gdwards, in his treatise on the Will, This work, 
•ettiDg aside its Calvinisdc tendency with which [ have nothing to 
do^ is one of the most closely reasooed, elaborate, acute, serious, and 
scosible among modern productions. No metaphysician can read it 
witfaom feeling a wish to have been the author of it. The gravity of 
the matter and the earnestness of the manner arc alike admirable. 
Hia reasoning is not of that kind, which consists in having a smart 
answer for every trite objection, but in attaining true and satikfactory 
lolutions of things perceived in all their difficulty and in all their 
force, and in every variety of connexion. He evidently writes to 
satisfy his own mind and the minds of those, who tike himself are 
intent upon the pursuit of truth for its own sake. There is not an 
evasion or ambiguity in his whole book, nor a wish to produce any 
but thorough conviction. He does nut therefore lead his readers into 
a labyrinth of words, or entangle them among the forms of logic, or 
mount the airy heights of abstraction, but descends into the plain, and 
mingles uith the business and feelings of mankind, and grapples with 
common sense, and subdues it to the force of true reason. All 
pbiloftophy depends no less on deep and real feeling than on power of 
thought. I happen to have Edwards's* Inquiry concerning rrccwill,' 
and Dr. Priestley's * lUustrations of PhiloBopliical Necessity,' bound 
up in the same volume : and I confess that the dilTereoce in the 
manner of these two writers is rather striking. The plodding, per- 
serenng, scrupulous accuracy of the one, aod the easy, cavalier, verbal 
fluency of the other, form a complete contrast Dr. Priestley's 
whole aim seems to be to evade the difHculties of his subject, 
Edwards's to answer them. The one is employed according to 
Berkeley's allegory, in flinging dust in the eyes of his adversaries, 
while the other is taking true pains in digging into the mine of 
knowledge. All Dr. Priestley's arguments on this subject are mere 
hacknied common-places. He had in reality no opinion of his own, 
and truth, I conceive, never takes very deep root in those minds on 
which it is merely engrafted. He uniformly adopted the vantage 
ground of every question, and borrowed those arguments which he 
found most easy to be wielded, and of most service in that kind of 
busy intellectual war&re to which he was habituated. He was an 
able controversialist, not a philosophical reasoncr. 

Dr. Priestley sutes in his * Illustrations' and in his letter to Dr. 
Horslcy, that the difference between physical and moral necessity is 
merely verbal. He says, speaking of the connexion between cause 
and effect in the mind, ' Give me the thing and I will readily give up 
the name.' It appears to me that Dr. Priestley was quite as much 
attached to the name as to the thing, and that the philosophical 

vou XI. : E 65 




ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



prismile of necessity, without its unpopular title, would have 
afforaed him but little satisfactioo. Now the obnoxiousoess of the 
name, and in my opinion, almost all the difficulty and repugnance 
which the generality of men find in admitting the doctrine arises from 
the ambiguity lurking under the term necessity, which includes both 
kinds of necessity, moral and physical, and with which Dr. Priestley 
delights to probe the prejudices of his adversaries, chinking the 
differences of moral and physical ncccssiry a mere question of words, 
and that provided there are any laws or any causes operating upon 
the mind, it is of no sort of consequence what those laws or causes 
are* It is the same inability to dintinguish between one cause aod 
another which creates the vulgar prejudice against necessity, and 
which is exposed in a very satisfactory manner by the author of the 
•Inquiry into the Will.' He says, in a letter written expressly to 
vindicate himself from having confounded mora) with physical 
necessity, * On the contrary, I have largely declared that the 
connexion between antecedent things and consequent ones which 
takes place with regard to the acts of men's wills, which is called 
moral necessity, is called by the name of necestity improperly ; and 
that all such terms as musty eannott impostihUt unabk^ irrenitibUt 
uiutvoiJa&Ift m^ncibU^ &c. when applied here, are not applied in their 
proper signification, and are either used nonsensically, and with perfect 
insignificance, or in a sense quite diverse from their original and proper 
meaning, and their use in common speech ; and that such a neccsa^ 
as attends the acts of men*s wills, is more properly called certmniy 
than rucrMtUy, I think it is evidently owing to a strong prejudice in 
persons' minds, arising Brom an insensible habitual perversion and 
misapplication of snch-like terms, that they are ready to think that to 
suppose a certain connexion of men's volitions without any foregoing 
motives or Inclinations, is truly and properly to suppose such a strong 
irrefraf^able chain of causes and effects as stands m the way of, and 
makes utterly vain, opposite desires and endeavours, like immovable 
and impenetrable mountains of brass; and impedes our liberty like 
walls of adamant, gates of brass, and bars of iron : whereas all such 
representation!) suggest ideas as far from the truth, as the Hast is from 
the West. I know it is in vain to endeavour to make some persons 
believe this, or at least fully and steadily to believe it : for if it be 
demonstrated to them, still the old prejudice remains, which has been 
long fixed by the use of the terms neeutary^ muitt &c. the association 
with these terms of certain ideas, inconsistent with liberty, is not 
broken, and the judgment is powerfully warped by it ; as a diing that 
has been long bent and grown stiff, if it be straightened, will rettim to 
its former curvity again and again.* 
66 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



I 



I 



The reasoniag in the ' Inquiry ' to which the suthor here refers, in 
justification of himself, is as followi : 

'Men in their first use of such phrases sm these, must, cartnat, 
nuvtidahle, irres'ut'tbU^ Sec. use chcm to signify a necessity of con- 
Etraint or restraining a natural necessity or impossibility, or some 
oecesnty that the will has nothing to do in. A thing is said to be 
Ktertary, when we cannot help it, let ue do what we wilt. So any 
thing is said to be tmpojsibU to us, when we would do it, or would 
hare it brought to pass and endeavour it, but all our deiires and 
eodeavours are in vain. And that is said to be irrfsittUi/e, which 
orercomes all our opposition, resistance and endcatour to the contrary. 
And wc are said to be unable to do a thing, when our utmost 
sDmoiable desires and endeavours to do it are insufficient. All men 
fiwl, and begin to tind in early childhood, that there arc innumerable 
things which cannot be done which they desire to do ; and innumerable 
things, which they are averse to, that must be ; they cannot avoid 
them, whether they choose them or no. It is to express this 
oecessity which men so soon and so often £nd, and which so greatly 
sfTects them in innumerable cases, that such terms and phrases are 
first formed ; and it is to signify such a necessity that they are first 
used, and that they are most constandy used in the common affairs of 
life ; and not to signify any such metaphysical, speculative and abstract 
ootioo as that connexion [between cause and effect] in the nature and 
coarse of things, to signify which they who employ themselves in 
philosophical inquiries into the first origin and metaphysical relations 
and dependencies of things, have borrowed those terms, for want 
of others. But we grow up from our cradles in a use of such phrases 
CDtirely different from this, or from the one in which they are 
used in the controversy about liberty and necessity. And it bang a 
dictate of the universal sense of mankliul, evident to us as soon as we 
begin to think, that the necessity signified by these terms in the sense 
in which we 6r8t learn them, does excuse persons, and free them from 
all fault or blame, hence our idea of excusableness or faultlcssness is 
tied to these phrases by a strong habit, which grows up with us ; — 
or if we lue the words as terms of art in another sense, yet unless we 
are exceeding circumspect and wary, we shall insensibly slide into the 
ralgar use of them, and so apply the words in a very inconsistent 
manner : this habitual connexion of ideas will deceive and confound 
OS in our reasonings and discourses whenever we pretend to use the 
terms !n that manner.' — Pages 20, 21, 290, &c. 

' It follows that when the aforesaid terms are used in cases wherein 
no opposition, or insufficient will or endeavour is or can be supposed, 
but the rei7 nature of the supposed case ( as that of willing or choosing ) 

67 




ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 

excludes any such opposition, will, or codeavour, these terms are 
thea not used in chctr proper signification, but quite bct^ide their u«e 
in coTTimon Kpcech.* — Pages 21, 22. 

The author has, I think, in these passages, laid open the source of 
most of the conBision on the subject in question. For this double 
meaning lurking under tlic word necessity has been the chief reason 
why persons, wlio were guided more by their own feelings and the 
customary associations of lanjjuage than by formal definitions, have 
altogether rejected the doctrine ; while persons of a more logical turn, 
who could not deny the truth of the abstract principle, have yet in 
their explaoatioDs of it, and inferences from it, fallen into the same 
Tulgar error as their opponents. The partisans for necessity have 
given up their common sense, as they supposed, to their reason, while 
the advocates for liberty rejected a demonstrable truth from a dread 
of its consequences ; and both have been the dupes of a word. I 
have been the more ready to appeal to this writer's authority, because 
he is allowed on all hands to be one of the most strict, severe, and 
logical of all necessarians. What he has said on the subject of free- 
will, as consisting in perfect contingcncc, independent of all motive, or 
as implying an absolute beginning of action without any precedent 
determining cause might, one would imagine, have been sufficient, 
even if Hobbes'a reasonings had not, to banish that opinion out of the 
world. He has followed it through all its windings, and detected 
it in all its varying shades, with equal ]>atience and sagacity. He 
sums up the absurdities o( this notion of liberty, or of mere absolute 
aelf-will, in these words : 

* The following things are all essential to it, vi%, that an action 
should be necessary, and not necessary ; that it should be from a 
cause and 00 cause ; that it should be the fruit of choice and design, 
and not the fruit of choice and design ; that it should be the begin- 
ning of motion and exertion, and yet be consequent on previous 
exertion ; that it should be before it is ; that it should spring im- 
mediately out of indifference and equilibrium, and yet be the effect of 
preponderation ; that tt should be self-originated, also have its original 
from something else ; that it is what the mind causes itself, of its own 
wilt, and can pro>1ucc or prevent, according to its choice, or pleasure, 
and yet what the mind has no power to prevent, precluding all pre 
viouB choice in the affair. So th^t an act of the will [determining 
itself by its own free-will], according to their metaphysical account 
of it, is something of which there is no idea, it is nothing but a coo- 
fusion of the mind, excited by words without any distinct meaning. 
If some learned philosopher, who had been abroad, in giving an 
account of the curious observations he had made in his travels, should 

68 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



I 



aff ■* He had breti in Terra del Furgo, and there had seen an animal, 
vhich be cail» by a ceruio name, that begat and brought forth itself, 
Mtd yrt bad a «irc and a dam distioci from itself; that it bad an 
mttite aod was hungry before it had a being ; that his maiter, who 
led bim, and gOTemed him at his pleasure, was always goremed by 
t&ffi, and driTCD by him where he pleased : that when he moved, he 
always took a itep before the first step; that he went with his head 
firit, and yet always went tail foremost ; and this though he had 
neither head nor tail ;** it would be no impudence at all to tell such a 
traTeller, though a lean>ed man, that he himself had no notion or idea 
of such an animal as he gave an account of, and nerer had, nor ever 
would have.' — Page a8i, of the Inquiry. 

The author seems to have hit upon the wurcc of this erroneous 
account of free-will, with his usual truth of feeling. He says, almoM 
immediately after : — 'The thing which has led men into this incoo- 
Mcct notion of action, when applied to volition, as though it were 
meat ial to this internal action that the agent should be self-determined 
in it, and that the will should be the cause of it, was probably this : 
that according to the sense of mankind, and the common use of 
language, it is so with respect to men's external actions ; which arc 
what originally, and according to the vulgar use and most proper 
iense of the word, are called actionj. Men in these are self-directed, 
cejf-determincd, and their wills are the cause of the motions of their 
bodies, and the external things that arc done ; so that unless men do 
them voluntarily, and of choice, and the action be determined by 
their antecedent volition, it is no action or doing of theirs. Hence 
lome metaphysicians have been led unwaril}', but exceeding absurdly, 
to suppose the same concerning volition itself, that that also must be 
determined by the will ; which is to be determined by antecedent 
volition, as the motion of the body is ; not considering the contradic- 
tion it implies.' — IbiJ^ |>age 2S6. 

I shall proceed to state as briefly as I can my own notions of liberty 
and nectsFity, as far as they any way differ from the foregoing account. 

First, then, I conceive that if by necessity be understood aitd only 
understood the connexion of cause and effect, or the constant 
dependence of one thing on another, in the human mind as well as in 
matter, that according to this interpretation all things are equally 
certain and necessary. On the other hand, if by liberty be meant 
any thing opposite to tliis connexion of cause and effect : that is, a 
pofitiTc beginning of any action or motion out of nothing, or out of a 
itate of indifference, or from itself, I believe that there is no such 
thing as libcny in the mind any more than in matter. All things 
have their preceding determining causes, and nothing is, but what 




OS LJB£KTT AhB NfiCBSSmT 



tfcrtoi 



oftfei 



mi BMC sbcb aiseBeH v imc ■khb h ibbrj mo 

■cm «Udb hate 

ofdbt ■■^ceo- 

■ -« ^ - 

■ iBcnjiR jnrapK 

i4^cfaetenM 

_-«f AcncBt, aadto 

k does Ml aMEdov vith thn 

Hty: thtt ■, I ifal ^BoMt to 

liik dK ^■oJ fa« to vlKfe aD 

Hi^eCtt BiB If IB JpM^ A nCC agjOItt 1 

_ ■; tMiift,iHHiia(€t RWMd tmAjmmmh- 
id hliae^ ftc Nov hf ao >eEM I bob uy thiBg 
a [Ki B ii lo cfeoae, thm ■» lo podace ctfeos ; 1^ a 
MoacdHtMBOt haodend 6tm acOBs; bf a nora) 
_ : 1 HciB ooe ikM aea froM «iil» lad m isfiu- 
cand hf awfiiia; bf it — d aad paH^baeBt I ■eanvhat erery 
aae dan; by pcaiie aad fabaK I acao mt MTobaMa or dtsap- 
fnbauoa cf aay agtat dMt iacoBa o o ot of oaraa i aBi ^m iaifdihiro, 
•r cbat m r if ildi of ttBuaiag ob hit ovn ooadact. aad of beiog 
Aoid bf vfaK ocbss tkiak of it. If by aa agcA be aeant the 
bif^aBer of aoioa, or oae that prodBoes aa cflect of iikIC there can 
IraaacfcdBag; bat if bf aaageatbeMontoaeihalcaBDftotes to 
tthereiBMch a thiiieaaaa ageat; aad the vote any thing 
t to as dkCL aal deterMBO it to be tSn or tfaatt the roorv 
itiiBiaipBMU If by freedoai be neaat a ficedoB fioai caoieit or 
' ia the ■l i ia i i, diere can be do frcedosi ia Am aessc, but 

rfae lad ia a freedom from certwi cantn aad fron certaio 
degree! of otceiiity ; that it, (rom physical ca«se&, or compul- 
MH^ aad mo j^aoltte, aacooditiooal aecetsicy. If aU things are 
■BBily nrrrtsir), dut do not apnng oat of oothing, then indeed the 
dl i artiw i btt a uji liberty aiid necessity mml be in all cases ibsurd. 
A^m, hj free>will I do doc mean the power or liberty to act without 
aniitct^ Mt with modrcs. The mind cannot act without an occasion 
or ffrinad (oc actkgt but this docs not shew that it is no agoit at all, 



UB» 
IJBdd 



onbatki 



: a free ^^t ; that is, that its acnoo is restrained or 



i by the actkm of anychiog else. The imcUectoal and volun- 
twy fu w uw aie lree» jotl as the corporeal are, Dimely» when they air 
6m 10 pradncc certain effects, which, if excited, they can produce, as 
70 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



die bcNiy is free when it can move in consequence of the mind's 
direction ; it it do longer free when though the same reason exi«ta for 
its moring, it is hindered by something else from obeying the impulse. 
In short, liberty is this : the power in any agent in given circumstances 
to operate in a certain manner, if left to itself; or perhaps more ud- 
equTocally, opportunity given to any agent to exert certain powers to 
produce an effect, when nothing but those powers and the aosence of 
tmpedunents is wanting to produce it. To be free is to possess all 
tbe retauisites for acting in one's-self, and in the circtunstances, uxi 
not to DC counteracted. Again if moral good and evil are supposed to 
be something self-created, then they arc merely Bclions of the mind ( 
but if we sup]M)8e an agent to be entitled to praise or blame, reward or 
panishmeot, not because he is a self-willed, but a voluntary agent, that 
is to say, a being possessing certain powers and habitually and with 
determination exerting them to certain purposes, then there will be a 
foundation for this distinction in nature. To the idea of moral respon- 
sibility, it is not necessary that the agent should be the sole or ab- 
solutely first cause of the evil, for example, but that he should be one 
real, determining cause of it, and while he remains what he is, tbe 
same etfecte will follow. An agent is the author of any evil, wheo 
without him, that is, without something peculiar and essential to his 
disposition and character, it would not exist. 

I. livery thing is an agent that is any way necessary or conducing 
to an effect. The doctrine of second causes does not destroy agency. 
It no more proves that those causes do not act because something has 
acted before thera, than that they do not exist, because something has 
existed before them. The theological writers on this side of the 
question afRrm, I think improperly, that God or the first cause is the 
sole agent in the universe, to which all second causes are to be referred 
ms instrumeau, having no real efficacy of their own. If so, all 
evmts are produced immediately by the divine agency, tliat is, all 
second causes are pans of the divine essence, and in all that we see 
or hear or feel, we must conceive of something far more deeply inter- 
fiised, a spirit and a motion that impels all thinking things, all objects 
of all thought, and breathes through all things. This doctrine is that 
of Spinoza : but upon this supposition second causes, as the immediate 
operation of the Deity are and must be real and efficient. Oo the 
other hand, if to exclude this system of pantheism, we consider the 
things and appearances about us as merely natural, still what are called 
second causes must be real and efficient causes, or they could not 
produce their effects. If nothing can operate but the first cause, theo 
whatever produces effects is the Deity : but if this conclusion be 
thought objectionable, then we must allow odier causes of events to be 

7* 



ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY 



I 



dtspomcioa to attend to or neglrct them» to compare and wrigh thenii 
that their effect depen<ls. But the neceisanans have always delighted 
to illustrate tbc operations of the mind id volition by referring to the 
impulse communicated by one billiard-ball to another, or to different 
weights in a pair of scales. Both which illustrations arc as little ap- 

[i^icable as possible, because in neither of them is tliere supposed to be 
the least activity of action ; that is, the least capacity to resist or 
iocieaM or alter the impressed force in the thing acted upon. That is, 
the miod in these similes is requisite as a merely passive agent, by 
which I mean a thing perfectly indifferent and nugatory, a mere cypher 

ivithout any character of its own, that is neither good nor bad, 
Deither deserving of praise nor blame ; a cameleon, colourless kind of 
thing, the sport of external impulses and accidental circumstances, or 
of a necessity in which it has itself no share. Thus the responsibility 
of the mind has been taken from it, and transferred to outward circum- 
stances, and all characters in themselves rendered alike indifferent. 
This is the necesBary consequence of abstracting the intluencc of 
modvei from the mind on which and by which they act. I prefer 
exceedingly to the modern instances of a couple of billiard-balls, or a 
air of scales, the illustration of Chrysophus, the stoic in Cicero, who 

Paays, • Ille igitur qui protrusit cylindrum dedit ci principium raotionis, 
Tolubilitatcm auiem non dcdil : sic visum objcctum imprimet quidem 
et quasi signabit in animo suam speciem, sed assensio erit in potestate 

[.BOCtra.' That is, suppose I pu&h against a heavy body ; if il be 
qoarc it will not move ; if it be cylindrical it will. What the differ- 
ence of form is to the stone, the difference of disposidoo is to the 
miod- In fact, the necessarians, to maintain this doctrine of the 
QuUity of second causes, have been forced to consider every thing as a 
succession of simple impulses passing from hand to hand : so that 
there being no fixed point, no resting-place for the imagination, we 
are perpetually obliged to shift the cause from one object to another : 
every ^ing has to be accounted for, and referred back to something 
else, and in this ceaseless whirl of fleeting causes all ideas of power 
or agency seem to slide from under us. Lest the mind should prove 
refractory, to the laws ascribed to it, they thought it most prudent to 
deprive it of all activity and power of resistance. They were very 
absurdly afraid that without this their whole scheme might be over- 
turned, aa if though the mind were freed from being the servile drudge 
of external impulses, it would not still follow the bent of its own 
oature. The above distinction will, I conceive, set the mind free 
&oin one of the shackles imposed on it by the necessarians, namely, 
that imbecility, hclplessoets, aod indifference, which they have super* 
added to the regular connexion of cause and effect, though it makes 

73 



ON LOCKE S ESSAY 

no csftcntial part of it. The miitd, according to the adTocates for free- 
will, is a perfectly detached, uncoDnected, indepcndeat cause ; accord- 
ing to the necessarians, it is no cause at all : tieithrr branch of the 
aatithesis is true. 

2. According to the dcjinition of liberty above given, freedom, 
that is free agency, is applicable to niind as well as to matter. Free 
will does not, because will docs not, belong to it. By a free agent, I 
understand, with Hobbes, one that is not hindered from acting accord- 
ing to his natural or determinate bias. The body is free when it can 
obey the impulse of the mind ; so also a billiard-ball might be said to 
be free while it is not fixed to the table, or hindered from being im- 
ncUed by the suoke of the mace. In the same sense, the water, as 
Mr. Hobbes obacrTes, is said to descend freely along the channel of 
the river, while no obstacle intercepu its progress. But though neces- 
sarians allow liberty to the body, and to inanimate things, they deny 
that it is in any sense applicable to the mind or will. 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY ON THE HUMAN 
UNDERSTANDING 



This work owes its present rank among philosophical productions, to 
its embodiment of the great principle first brought forward by Hobbes. 
All its author^s attempts to modify this principle or reconcile it to 
common notions have been gradually exploded, and have given place 
to the more severe and logical deductions of Hobbes from the same 
general principle. Mr. Locke took the faculties of the mind as he 
found them in himself and others, and endeavoured to account for 
them on a nnv principle. By this compromise with candour and 
common sense, he prepared t)ie way for the introduction of the 
principle, which being once established, very soon overturned all the 
trite opinions and vulgar prejudices which were improperly associated 
with it. There was in fact no place for them in the new system. 

The great defect with which the * Essay on the Human Under- 
standing * is chargeable is, that there is not really a word aliout the 
nature of the understanding in it, nor any attempt to show wh.it it is 
or whether it is or is not any thing, distinct from the faculty of simple 
perception. The operations of thinking, comparing, discerning, 
reasoning, willing, and the like, which Mr. Locke ascribes to it, are 
the operations of nothing, or of I know not what. All the force of 
his mind seems to have been so bent on exploding innate ideas, and 
tracing our thoughts to their external source, that be either forgot or 

74 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



lud not leisure to exunioe what the internal principle of all thought 
ta. He took for his basis a bad simile — that the mind is like a blank 
sheet of paper, originally void of all characters whatever; for this, 
though true as far 3» relates to innate ideas, that is, to any impressions 
ally existing in It, is not true of the mind ititelf, which is not like 
I thcet of paper, the passive reccirer and retainer of the impressioos 
made upon it. The inference from this simile has however been that 
the understanding is nothing in itself, nor the cause of any thing ; 

bffcrer acting, but always acted upon ; that it is but a convenient 

hfepontory for the straggling images of things, a sort of empty room 
"mo which ideas are conveyed from without through the doors of the 

I acnses, as you would carry goods into an unfurnished lodging ; and 
hettce it has been found necessary by succeeding writers to get rid ol 
ihoK different faculties and operations which Mr. Locke elsewhere 

^allowB to belong to the mind, but which are in truth only compatible 
vhh the active powers and independent nature of the understanding. 
I will first state Mr. Locke's account of the origin of our ideas in his 
own words, and will then endeavour to show in what that account is 
defective ; that ia, what other act or faculty of the mind I conceive to 
be necessary to the formation of our ideas, besides sensation or simple 
perceptioo. After employing eighty pages in a very laborious, and 
for the moat part sensible refutation of the doctrine of innate ideas, 
which was popular at the time, but which Hobbcs has not deigned to 

[ ttotice, their impossibility being implied in the general principle that 
ill our ideaa are derived from the senses, Mr. Locke proceeds in the 
•ecood book to treat of Ideas, and their origin. He then says : 

* Every man being conscious to himself that he thinks, and that 
which his mind is applied about whilst thinking being the ideas that 
sre there, it it past doubt that men have in their minds several ideas, 
■uch are those expressed by the words, •whUenett^ hardnetit fweetnejjt 
thintingt mifthnf man, e/ep/rant, armyy Jrunkentusiy and others : it is in 
the first place then to be inquired how he comes by them. 1 know 
it it a received doctrine that men have native ideas and original 
characters stamped upon their mindft in their very first being. This 
opinion I have at large examined already: but I suppose what I 
have said will be much more easily admitted when I have shewn 

I whence the understanding may get all the ideas it has, and by 
rhat ways and degrees they may come into the mind, for which 
I shall appeal to every one's own obiervation and experience. Let us 
then suppose the mind to Iv, as we say, white paper, void of all 
diaraciers, without any ideas : how comes it to be furnished ? 
Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boondless 
fiocy of mao has painted on it, in an almost endless variety ? 

75 



ON LOCKE S ESSAY 

Whence has it all the materialii of reason and knowledge ? To this I 
answer, in one word, from experience : in that all our knowledge is 
founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself. . . . 

* First, our senses, conversant about particular sensible objects, do 
convey into the mind several distinct perceptions of things, according 
to those various ways, wherein those objects do affect them ; and thus 
we come by those ideas we have of j»c//?w, w/fei/c, hrat^ coUt, soft, hard^ 
bitter, sivxet, and all those which wc call sensible qualities, which when 
I say the senses convey into the mind, I mean, they from external 
objects convey Into the mind what produces there those perceptions. 
This great source of most of the ideas we have, depending wholly upon 
our senses, and derived by them to the understanding, I call seneation. 

* Secondly, the other fountain from whence exf>eriencc furnishcth 
the understanding with ideas, is the perception of the operations of our 
own mind within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got : 
which operations when the soui comes to reflect on and consider, do 
furnish tbe understanding with another set of ideas, which could not 
be had from things without : and such ire perception, tbinitng^ doubting^ 
believing, reasoning, knowing, wilRng, and all the ditTcrcnt actings of 
our own minds ; which we being conscious of, and observing in our- 
selves^ do from these receive into our understandings as distinct Ideas 
as we do from bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideal 
every man has wholly in himself; and though it be not sense, as 
having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very like it, and 
might properly enough be called internal sense. But as I call the 
other sensation, so I call this reflection ; the ideas it affords being 
such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operations within 
itself. . . . These two I say, tf'z. external, material things, as the 
objects of sensation, and the operations of our own minds within as 
the objects of keflection, arc to me the only originals from whence all 
our ideas take their beginnings. The terra operations here I use in a 
large sense, as comprehending not barely the actions of the mind about 
its ideas, but some sort of pssions arising sometimes from them, such 
as is the satisfaction or uneasiness arising from any thought.* 

* The understanding,' proceeds Mr. Locke, ' seems to rae not to 
have the least glimmering of any ideas, which it doth not receive from 
one of these two. Kxternal objects furnish the mind with the ideas of 
seniible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce 
in us ; and the mind furnishes the understanding witli ideas of its own 
operations. These, when we have taken a full survey of them, and 
their several modes, combinations, and relations, we ahall fmd to contain 
alt our whole stock of ideas : and that we have nothing in our minds, 
which did not come in one of these two ways.' — Essay, vol. i. p. 84. 

76 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



Again, page i^Ot he says: 

' I pretcDd not to teach but to inquire, and thcfefore c-mnot but 
confesi here again, that externaJ and internal sensation are the only 
[|)asaa.£es that I can find of knowledge to the understanding. Theie 
alone, as far as 1 can discover, are the windows by which light is let 
into this dark room. For methinks the understanding is not much 
unlike a closet, wholly shut from light, with only some licUc opening 
left, to let in external visible resemblances, or ideas of things without: 
would the pictures coming into such a dark room but stay there, and 
lie so orderly as to be found upon occasion, it would very much 
resemble the understanding of a man in reference to all objects of 
sight, and the ideas of them.' 

This account of the origin of every thing that exists in the mind 
diffiers from the simplicity of Hobbcs's system, and of the modern 
philosophy, in supposing that there is another distinct source of ideas, 
besides sensation, namely, reflection on the operations of our own 
minds. I confess this addition appears to me to be very awkwardly 
and inanificially made. For, in the first place, it is obvious to 
remark that in most at least, if not all the instances enumerated by 
the author, the operations themselves are the proper and immediate 
sources of our ideas, not this kind of reflection on them, which seems 
to be nothing but the repetition or recollection of the flrst cooscioos 
unpression, the perception of a perception. For example, Mr. Locke 
iacludcs among operations of our own minds * fiomc sort of passioDS 
arising from our ideas,' r^. as he explains it, the »ense of pleasure 
and pain. Now it is surely a little preposterous to make, not the 
original feeling itself, but the after consideration or reflection on that 
feeling, tlie source of our idea of pleasure or patn. In this sense, 
reflection must be the source of all our ideas, whether of external 
objects, or the operations of our own minds, for in the same sense 
it may be argued, that the first impression of a sensible object is not 
the source of the idea we have of it, till the soul somes to reflect on 
and consider that original impression. But it might be said with 
equal propriety, that we hare one source of ideas, viz., sensation, and 
another source of ideas, viz. ideas. From the view which Mr. Locke 
has here taken of the subject, though the passions, or the satisfaction 
and uneasiness attending certain things are ranked among the opera- 
tions of the mind, yet it is not quite clear whether we arc supposed 
to have any consciousness of them or not ; whether they are not as 
remote from any thing like perception, as the lifeless objects without 
us, till coming to be ^erwards reflected on and taken notice of by 
the mind, they furnish the undersunding with a new set of ideas. 
The same reasoning may be applied to the other operations of 

77 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 



percepdoDf thinking. Sec. for it seems to me that the original act of 
perceiving or thinking is the source of my idea of those mental 
operations, just as the first impression of any sensible object is the 
source of my idea of that object. Not sensation and reflection, 
therefore, but sensation and the operations of our own minds are more 
properly the sources of our ideas, that is, these two furnish materials 
for our reflection. 1 should not have dwelt so long upon thtti 
distinction, which may be thought of little importance in itself, but] 
that I believe it lias led to most of the errors of the * Essay.* For 
in consequence of separating the operations of the mind in a manner* 
from the mind itself, and making them exist only as object* for its con- 
templation, Mr. Locke has been satisfied with considering those opera- 
tions as acting upon the mind like external things, not as emanating 
from it. Thus, by a general formula, all our ideas of every kind are 
represented as communicated to the mind by something foreign to 
it, instead of growing out of, and being a part of its own nature and 
essence. 

Secondly, another objection to this division of our ideas into thoie 
of sensation and reflection is, that it does not dilTcr in any decisive 
manner from the more simple statement of Hobbes and others, who 
derive all our ideas from sensation. For by sensation these writers 
do not understand merely the external image, but the perception or 
feeling which accompanies it, and they contend that all our other 
ideas are continuations, modifications, or different arrangements ofi 
the original impressions, produced by objects on the senses. Nov 
there is nothing in the extract above given to disprove this sutement: 
and if BO, the original hypothesis will remain in its full force. Indeed 
Mr. Locke himself does not seem to have made up his mind, whether 
it were so or not. For though he speaks o( the mind as furnishing 
the understanding with ideas, and with the materials of reason and 
knowledge, and enumerates and explains the several operations of 
the mind in comparing, distinguishing. Sec. yet he elsewhere s|)eaks 
of ideas as existing in the understanding like pictures in a gallery, or 
as if the whole process of the intellect were resolvable into the power 
of receiving, retaining, carrying, and transposing the gross materials 
furnished by the senses, in this case, I think the simplest way at 
once is to make sensation the foundation of all our other ideas and 
faculties. For my own part, the reason why I cannot assent to this 
doctrine is, tliut I believe there is another act or faculty of the mind 
implied in all our ideas, for which neither sensation nor any of its 
modes can ever account, and which I shall here proceed to explain. 

The principle which I shall attempt to prove is, that ideas are the 
offspring of the understanding, not of the senses. By a sensation is 

78 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



meant the perception produced by the itnpressioD of the tevcrai parti 
of aji outward object, each by itself^ on the corrcapondcat parts of 
4A orgAoited sentient being : by an idea 1 mean the conception pro- 
daced by a number of these together on the same conscious principle. 
Besides the succession or juxu-position of different sensible impres- 
sioQs, I suppose that there is a common principle of thought, a 
superintending faculty, which alone perceives the leladons of things, 
aad csiables us to coniprch<rnd their connexions, fomik, and masses. 
This faculty is properly the undersunding, aitd it is by means of this 
faculty that man iodeed becomes a reasonable soul. What has led 
more than any thing else to the exclusion of the understanding ae a 
distinct faculty ol the mind, and to the principle of resolving the acts 
of judging, reasoning. Sec, into mere association, or succession of 
ideas, has been the considering ideas themselres, or those particular 
objects which are marked by one name, or strike at once upon the 
iHucft, as sutU>U things. Mr. Locke, it is true, has aroided this error 
u far as relates to our ideas of substances, but he reckons among 
simple ideas of the qualities of things scTcral ideas, which arc 
evidently complex, such as extension, figure, motion, and number. 
Hence, having laid in a certain stock of ideas without the necessity o^ 
the under btanding, it was thought an easy matter to build up the 
whole structure of the human mind without it, as wc build a house 
with stones. The method, therefore, which I shall take to establish 
the point I have in view, will be by showing that there is do one of 
these simple ideas, or ideas of particular things, which arc made the 
foundatioD of all the rest, that is not itself an aggregate of many things, 
or that can subsist a moment but in the understanding. I can conceive 
of a being endued with the power of sensation, or simple perception, 
so as to receive the direct impressions of things, and also with 
memory, so as to retain them for any length of time, as they were 
severally and unconnectedly presented, yet without the smaUew degree 
of understanding, or without ever having so much as a single thought. 
The state of such a being would be that of animal life, and soote- 
thing more with the addition of memory, but it would not amount to 
intellect; which implies, besides actual, living impressions, the power 
of perceiving their relations to one another, of comparing and con- 
trasting them, and of regarding the different parts of auy object as 
nuking one whole. Without this * discourse of reason,* this sur- 
rounding and forming power, we could never have the idea of a single 
object, as of a table or a chair, a blade of grass, or a grain of saiKl. 
Every one of these includes a certain configuration, hardness, colour, 
&c., Lr. ideas of different things, received by different senses, which 
must be put together by the understanding before they can be referred 

79 



ON LOCKE S ESSAY 



to any particuJar thing, or considered as one idea. Without this 
faculty, all our ideas would be necessarily decomposed, and crumbled 
down into their original elements and fluxional pans. We could 
assuredly never carry on a chain of reasoning on any subject, for the 
very links of which this chain must consist would be ground to 
powder. There would be an iniintte divisibility in the imprefiiiionB of 
the mtod, as well as in the objects of matter. There would be a 
total want of union, fellowship, and mutual intelligence between ihem, 
for each impression must remain absolutely simple and distinct, unknown 
to, and unconscious of the rest, shut up in the narrow cell of its own 
individuality. No two of these atomic impressions could ever club 
together to form even a sensible point, much less should we be able 
Jfi arrive at any of the larger masses, or nominal descriptions of things. 
The most that sensation could possibly do for ui, would be to furnish 
us with the ideas of what Mr. Locke calls the simple qualities of 
objecta, as of colour or pressure, though not as a general notion or 
dimued fe«ling ; for it is certain that no one idea could ever contain 
more than the tinge of a single ray of light, or the puncture of a single 
particle of matter. Let us, however, for a moment 8up]K)se that the 
several parts of objects arc to be considered as individual things, or 
ideal units ; and tJien see whether, without the cementing power of 
the understanding, we shall be able to conceive of them as forming a 
complete whole, or any one entire object. Thus we may have a notioo 
of the legs and arms of a chair as so many distinct, positive things \ 
but without the power of perceiving them together in their several 
proportions and situations, we could not have the idea of a chair as 
one thing, or as a piece of furniture, intended for a particular uic. It 
is the mind (if I may be allowed such an expression) that makes np 
the idea of the chair, and fits it together : that is in this case the 
cabinet-maker, who unites the loose, disjointed parts, and makes them 
one firm and well-compacted object. I might instance to the same 
purpose a statue. Will any one say, that if the head and limbs and 
different parts o( a fine statue were to be taken asunder, broken in 
pieces, and strewed about the floor, and first nhowo to him in that 
state, he would have the same idea of the beauty, proportions, posture, 
and effect of the whole, as if he had seen it in its original state ? 
But the idea which such a person might have of the fitatue in this way 
would be completeness and harmony itself, compared witl» any idea 
which could result from the sensible impression of the several parts. 
For he might still in fancy piece together the broken, mutilated 
fragments, prop up the limbs, sci the head upon the shoulders, and 
make out a crazy image of the whole ; but without the understanding 
reacting on the senses, and informing the eye with judgment and 
80 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



^ 



knowledge, there would be do postfibility whatever of comparing the 
different impressions received : no one part could have the alightcM 
refrrence to any other part or to the whole ; there would be no 
priociplc of cohesioD left : wc might have an infinite number of 
microscopic impressions and fractions of ideas, but there being nothing 
to unite them together, the most perfect grace and symmetry would 
be only one mass of unmeaning, unconscious confusion. All nature, 
ail objects, all parts of all objects would, be equally * without form 
and Toid.' The mind alone it formative, to use the expression of a 
great German writer ; or it is that alone which by its pervading and 
cLascic energy unfolds and expands our ideas, that gives order and 
coQsisteocy to ihcm, that assif^ns to every part its proper place, and 
fixes it there, and that frames the idea of the whole. Or, in other 
words, it is the understanding alone that perceives relation, but every 
object is made up of relation. In short, there is no object or idea 
which does not consist of a number of parts arranged in a certain 
manner, but of tltia arrangement the parts themselves cannot be 
seuible. To make each part conscious of its relation to the rest ii 
to nippose an infinite number of intellects instead of one ; and to say 
chat a knowledge or perception of each part separately, without 
a reference to the rest, can produce a conception of the whole ; that 
il, that a knowledge where no two impresnons are or ever can be 
compared, can include a comparison between them and many others, 
is a contradiction and an absurdity. 

It may be said perhaps, that not the sensation excited by any of 
the parts of an object separately, but the sum of our sensations, excited 
by all the parts, produces our idea of the whole. But it is not 
pOMible that in a given number of impressions, where the mind never 
ha* perception of more than a single part, there should be contained 
DOtwithitanding a view of the whole at once. For as a single part 
cannot of itself represent the whole object, ao neither can this part by 
being actually joined to others, which by the supposition are never 
perceived to be joined with it, produce that idea, any more than if 
thoK other parts had no existence. If the impression of the parts of 
an object, absolutely and individually considered, were the same 
thing as the idea of the object, any number of actual impressions, 
arranged in any manner whatever, would necessarily be the same 
object. But this is contrary to ail fact. For then a curve line, 
consisting of the same number of points, would not be distinguishable 
from a straight one, nor a square from a triangle of the same 
dimensions, and so on. In a being endued only with a power of 
•rnsation, and supposed to be simple and undivided, there could be no 
room for more than an individual imprcstiion at once. Our sensations 

rou XI* : F 8 1 




ON LOCKE S ESSAY 

wuttjlwaya miccecd each other. One thought must have completely 

BMMd away, before another could supply ite place. Our ideas would 

kav* DO traces of thcmielves, Uke the bubblca that riie and disappear 

on the water, or the mow that melu aa it falU. There would be 

nothing in their fugitive, momentary exietcnce to bind them together. 

*iTuf^ *'op to compare any one impression with any other, ii 

would be lost for ever in the dark abyss of time. Nothing could be 

connected vrith any thing else, cither coexisting with it, or going 

before or attcr it. If on the other hand, we suppose any merely 

sentient being to be extended and compounded, or to be capable of 

receiving more than one impression at once, we shall yer gain little by 

it. Such a sentient being will be nothing but a number of distinct 

sentient beings. For as in the former instance, no two iropressioos 

could co-exist together, so in the lauer, though they existed together, 

there could be no sort of communication between them. They would 

be absolutely cut off from and exclusive of each other. The mind in 

attending to any one must be wholly absorbed by it, and insensible of 

the rest. Our sensations would to every rational purpose be placed 

as completely out of the sphere of each other's consciousness a« if 

they were parcel of another intellect, or floated in the region of the 

moon. That any number of detached, unconnected, actual sensations, 

impressed on different sentient beings, would not of themselves imply 

a conception of any one entire object is what every one is ready to 

grant: — it would be equally clear, that this idea could not ariie from 

the impression of the different paru of an object on the different parts 

of the same organized, extended, sentient substance, but that in this 

case we involuoturily transfer our own consciousness to a being 

incapable of it, and identify these distinct sensible impressions in the 

same common intellect. 

It is strange that Mr. Locke should rank among simple ideas that 
of number, which he defines to be the idea of unity repeated. But 
how this idea of successive or distinct units can ever give the idea of 
repetition unless the former instances are borne in mind, I caimot 
conceive. There might be a transition from one unit to another, but 
no addition or aggregate formed. As well might we suppose that a 
body of an inch diameter by shitting from place to place might enlarge 
ita dimeosions to a foot or a mile, as that a succession of units, per- 
ceived separately, should produce the complex idea of number. The 
natural fool that Mr. Hobbes speaks of, may be supposed to observe 
every stroke of the dock, and nod to it, or say one, one, one : but he 
could never know what hour it strikes, according to Mr. Hobbes, 
without the use of those names of order, one, two, three, &c. nor 
according to my notion, without the help of that orderly under- 



« 



I 
I 



I 




ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



•landing which firit ioTeotcd. those namcs^ and comprehendi Uicir 
nKsciag. On the material hypothesis, the mind can hare but one 
idea at a time, and the idea of number could never enter into it. 

Though Mr. Locke constantly supposes the mind to perceive 
relations, and explains it« operations in reasoning, comparing* &c. on 
this prindple, there is but one place in bis work, in which he seems 
to bjiTC been upon the point of discovering that this principle is at the 
bottom of all our ideas whateTer. He says, in the begioniog of his 
chapter on Power, which he classes among simple ideas, and which 
in my opinion has a much more simple source than that which lie 
assigns to it, — ' 1 confess power includes in it soma kind of reiahon (a 
relation to action or change), as indeed which of our ideas, of what 
kind soever, when attentively considered, does not I For our ideas 
of extension, duration, and number, do they not all contain in them 
a secret relation of the parts? Figure and motion have something 
relative in them much more visibly : and sensible qualities, as colours 
and smells, what are they but the powers of different bodies in rela- 
tion to our perception ? and if considered in the things themselves, do 
they not depend on the bulk, figure, texture, and motion of the parts? 
Ail which include some kind of relation in them. Our idea therefore 
of power I think may well have a place amongst other simple ideas, 
and be considered as one of them, being one of those that make a 
principal ingredient in our complex ideas of substances.* — Essay, 
vol. i. p. 134. That is to say, in other words, the idea of power, 
which is confessedly complex according to Mr. Locke, as depending 
on the changes we observe produced in one thing by another, is to 
paia for a simple idea, because it has as good a right to this denomina- 
doD as other complex ideas, which are usually chased as simple ones. 
It is thus that the inquiring mind seems to be always hovering on the 
brink of truth, but that timidity or indolence, or prejudice, which is 
bocb combined, makes us shrink back, unwilling to trust ourselves to 
the fathomless abyss, 

I have thus endeavoured to give some account of what I mean by 
the understanding, as the principle which is the foundation not only 
of judgment, reason, choice, and deliberate action, but is included in 
every idea of the mind, or conception even of sensible objects. I am 
aware that what I have said may be looked upon as rliapsody and 
extravagance by the strictest sect of those who are called philosophers. 
The understanding has been set aside as an awkward incumbrance, 
since it was conceived practicable to carry on the whole business of 
thought and reason by a succession of external images and sensible 
points. The fine network of the mind itself, the cords that bind and 
hold our scattered perceptions together, and form the means of com* 




ON LOCKERS ESSAY 



municatioQ between tlieni, arc dissolved and vanish betbrc the clear 
light of modern metaphysics, as the gossamer is dissipated by the sun. 
The adepts in this system smile at the contradictions involved in the 
auppOBition of perceiving the reUtionA between different things »nd 
say that this implies the absurdity that the mind may have two ideas 
at once, which is with them impossible. Now I shall only contend 
that if the mind cannot have two ideas at the same time, it can never 
have any* since all the ideas we know of consist of more than one : 
and though the consciousness we have of attending to different objects 
at once, when we compare, judge, reason, will. Sec, has been resolved 
into a deception of the mind in mistaking a rapid succession of objecu 
for one general impression, yet it will hardly be pretended that we 
deceive ourselves in thinking we have any ideas at all. Mr. Home 
Tookc, who is ceruinly one of the ablest commentators on the 
doctrines of that hcIiooI, says that it is as absurd to talk of a complex 
idea as of a complex star, meaning that our ideas are as perfectly 
ciistinct from, and have as little to do with one another, as the stars 
that compose a confitcllation. Other writers, to avoid the seeming 
contradiction of supposing the mind to divide its attention between 
different objects, have suggested the instant of its passing from one to 
the other as the true point of compariBon between them ; or that the 
lime when it had an idea of both together, was the time when it had 
an idea of neither. As it was evident that while the mind was 
entirely taken up with one idea, it could not have any knowledge of 
another which did not yet exist, or had passed away, and as both 
impressions cannot be supposed to co-exist in the same conscious 
understanding (for on this system there is no such faculty), this 
ihort, precious interval, this moment of leisure from both, this lucky 
vacancy of thought, is pitched upon as that in which the mind per- 
forms all its functions, and contemplates its various ideas in their 
absence, as from some vantage ground the traveller stops to survey 
the country on both sides of him. To such absurdities are ingenious 
men driven by setting up argument against fact, and denying tlie most 
obvious truths for which they cannot account, like the sophist who 
denied the existence of motion, because he could not understand its 
nature. It might be deemed a sutTicient answer to those who build 
systems and lay down formal propositions on the principle that the 
mind can comprehend but one idea at a time, to say that they con- 
sequently can have no meaning in what they write, since when they 
begin a sentence they cannot have the le:t$t idea of what will be the 
end of it, and by the time they get Co the end of it must totally forget 
the beginning. * Peace to all such ! ' 

To show, however, that 1 am not quite singular in mv notions on 

84 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



thi» subject of cooeciousDcM, and to remore, as I thtnic, every shadow 
of doubt upon it, I beg leave to refer my readers to two passages, the 
ooe in Rousseau, and the other in Abraham Tucker, in support of the 
almost obsolete prejudice which I have here endeavoured to defend. 
The one is an argument to prove that judgment and sensation are not 
the same, in the Vicar's profesaion of faith in * Emilius,' and the 
other is the chapter on the independent existence of mind in the 
' Light of Nature Pursued.' 

The passage in Rousseau seems evidently to have been intended as 
an answer to the maxim of Helvetius that to feel is to ju^e^ and to 
his reasoning on this maxim, which is as follows : — 

*Tbe question being reduced within these limits, I shall examine 
at present whether the act of tlie mind in judging is any thing more 
than a sensation. When I judge of the size or colour of the objects 
artniDd me, it is evident that the judgment formed of the different 
impressions, which these objects make upon my senses, is properly only 
a sensation : that I may say indiscriminately, either I juage^ or I fetif 
that of two objects, the one which I call a yard makes upon roe a 
different impreKsion from another which I call afoot: that the colour 
called redt produces a different effect upon the sight from that which 
I call yellow ; and I conclude that in this case to judge is only to feel 
or perceive by the senses. But it may be said, let us suppose that any 
ooe desires to know whether strength of body is preferable to mere 
bulk ; are we certain that we can decide this point by means of the 
KDses alone? Most undoubtedly, I reply: for in order to my com- 
ing to a decision on the subject, my memory must first retrace to me 
SQCcessively the different utuations in which I may happen most fre- 
quently to find myself in the course of my life. In this case, then, 
to judge is to see that in these different situations strength will be 
oftener an advantage to me than size. But it may be retorted, when 
the question is to decide whether in a king justice is preferable to 
mercy, is it conceivable that the conclusion here formed depends 
entirely on sensation? The affirmative has undoubtedly at first sight 
the air of a paradox : nevertheless, in order to establish its truth, we 
will presuppose in any one a knowledge of what is meant by good 
and evil, and also of the principle that one action is worse than 
another, according as it is more injurious to the well-being of society. 
On this supposition, what method ought the orator or poet to take, in 
order to show most clearly that justice, preferable in a king to mercy, 
preserves the greatest number of^citizens to the state ? 

* The orator will present three several pictures to the imagination 
of his supposed hearer : in the first he will represent a just king, who 
condemns and gives orders for the execution of a criminal ; in the 

8s 




ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

second, will be ueo the good king, who opens the doors of hi8 
dungeon, and strikes off the chains of' the ttame criminal ; in the third 
picture, the criminal himfielf wili be the principal figure, who, armed 
with a poniard, on his escape from his cell hastens to assassinate fifty 
of his fcllow-citizena. But who is there that at the sight of these 
three pictures will not instantly perceive that Justice which, by the 
death of a single indiTidual, saves the lives of fifty persons, is prefer- 
able to mercy ? Nevertheless, this judgment is really nothing but a 
sensation. In fact, if from the habit of connecting certain ideas with 
certain words, the sound of these words may, as experience demon- 
strates, excite in us almost the same sensations which we should feel 
from the actual presence of the objects, it is evident that from the 
contemplation of these three pictures, to judge that In a king justice 
is preferable to mercy, is to feel and see that in the first picture a 
■ingle citizen is sacrificed, while in the third fifty are massacred; 
whence I conclude that every act of the judgment is only a sensation.' 
— Heheliuj on the Ai'tmiy p. 12, 

On this statement I may be permitted to remark that as the author 
affirms tliat sensation is the same thing as judgment, so he seems to 
conceive that the assertion of any proposition is the same thing as the 
proof of it. He supposes three several pictures to be presented to a 
man of understanding, and that from an attentive contemplation and 
comparison of the different objects and events contained in them, he 
comes to a judgment or conclusion, viv.. That justice is preferable /o 
mtrcy. 'Nevertheless,' he says, *this judgment is really nothing but 
a sensation/ This is all the proof he brings ; and perhaps, con- 
sidering the language and country in which this celebrated author 
wrote, it is reasoning good enough. Do 1 say this with any view to 
throw contempt on that lively, ingenious, gay, social, and polished 
people? No; but philosophy is not thcxx forte: they are not in 
earnest in these remote speculations. In order duly to appreciate their 
writings, we must consider them not as the dictates of the under- 
standing, hut as the clfccts of constitution. Otherwise we shall do 
them great injustice. They pursue truth, like all other things, as far 
as it is agreeable ; they reason for their amusement ; they engage in 
abstruse questions to vary the topics of conversation. Whatever does 
not answer this purpose is banished out of books and society as a 
morose and cynical philosophy. To obtrude the dark and diflicult 
parts of a question, or to enter into an elaborate investigation of them, 
IS considered as a piece of ill-manners. Those writers, therefore, 
have been the most popular among the French who have supplied 
their readers with the greatest number of dazzling conclusions founded 
on the most slight and superficial evidence, whose reasonings could be 

86 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 

Applied to every thing, because they explained nothing, and who most 
effectually kept out of right every thing tnic or profound or interest- 
ing in a question. Who would ever think of plunging into abstniacy 
metaphysical inquiries concerning the nature of the understanding, 
¥rhen he may with entire ease to himself and satinfaction to others 
solve all the phenomena of the mind by repeating in three words, 
Juger est irnlir. As it was the object of the school-philosophy, by a 
jargon of technical distinctions, to nharpen the eagerness of delate and 
give birth to endless verbal controversies, bo the modem system, trans- 
ferring philosophy from the cloistered hall to the toilette and the 
drawing-room, is calculated, by a set of portable phrases, as familiar 
and as current as tlie forms of salutation, to silence every difference 
of opinion, and to produce an euthanasia of all thought. I have made 
these remarks not to prejudice the question, but to prevent the preju- 
dice arising on the other side, from seeing the writers of a whole 
nation, not deficient in natural talents or in acquired advantages, agree in 
delivering the most puerile absurdities as profound and oracular truths. 
The train of thought into which the author has fallen in the passage 
above cited is pretty obvious. Having undertaken to prove that the 
ideas of justice and mercy are mere sensations, and that the conclu- 
sion that justice is preferable to mercy is also a mere sensation, in 
order to shew the possibility of this he conjures up the ideas of a 
good and a bad king, of a criminal, a prison, chains, a dagger, and 
fifty citizens massacred before the eyes of the spectator, which form 
the subject of three imaginary pictures, and which arc in general con- 
sidered as so many sensible objects. All these sensible objects he 
supposes to be implied in, and to be the materials out of which we 
frame the judgment or conclusion, that justice is better than mercy ; 
and therefore he infers that there is nothing else implied in or neces- 
•ary to that Judgment, and that consequently it is nothing but a 
sensation. Having succeeded in resolving the compound and general 
ideac of justice and mercy, good and evil, into a number of sensible 
appearances^ his imagination is entirely occupied with the novelty of 
the objects before him, and he drops altogether the consideration, 
whether the combination and comparison of these several objects or 
•ensnltons which is absolutely necessary to their forming the moral 
ideas or inference spoken of, is not the act of some other faculty. In 
■hort, the principle that a judgment is nothing but a sensation, is not 
only a perfectly gratuitous assertion, but an assertion either without 
meaning, or a palpable contradiction. For the single objects pre* 
lented in the foregoing metaphysical pctures, and which are suppOAcd 
to constitute the judgment, are not one sensation, but many. Now if 
it be meant that these single objects, as they are perceived separately, 

87 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

or RiccessiTely* one by one» withoat the ioterveDtion of any reflex act 
of the mind combining and comparing them together, constitute of 
themselves the judgment, * that Justice is preferable to mercy,' this is 
to cay, ID BO many words, that the mind formi a comparison between 
things without comparing them, and judges of their relations without 
perceiving them. On the other hand, if tl be meant to include the 
acts of the mind in comparing, judging, inferring, &c. in the term 
inuaeiont then the proposition that judgment or sensation are the 
same, will be nothing but an idle and insignilicaat abuse of words, 
and will only prove that if to the sensation, or perception of particular 
objects we add the faculty of comparing and judging, nothing farther 
will be necessary for it to compare and judge. I shall therefore 
dismiss this well known maxim aa no better than a misnomer, as an 
attempt to shorttrn the labour of thought by the interposition of an 
unmeaning phrase, and to confound all the distinctions of the under- 
Btaoding by an equivoque. 

It will not be amiss in this place to transcribe a passage from the 
Logic of the Abbe Condillac (a work which may be regarded as the 
quintessence of slender thought, and of the art of substituting words 
for things] to show how far the doctrine of the origin of all our ideas 
from sensation may be carried, and what an imbecility it produces in 
the mind, and deadness to any but external objects. The design of 
the passage is to prove that morality is a visible thing. This how- 
ever is a work of supererogation, even on the principle supposed : for 
it is not necessary to refer morality to any thing visible or audible, or 
to any other of the senses, but the sense of pleasure and pain ; our 
feelings of this kind being allowed to come from, and make a part of 
our original sensations. But this system is not an improvement on 
reason, but a progression in superficiality and absurdity, a vast vacuity, 
where * Buttering its pennons vain, the mind drops down ten thousand 
fathoms deep/ 

'Moral ideas,' says my author, 'seem to elude the senses: they at 
least elude the senses of those philosophers who deny that our knowledge 
proceeds from sensation. They would gladly know of what colour virtue 
is, or of what colour vice is. I answer that virtue consists in the habitual 
performance of good actions, as vice consists in the habitual performance 
of bad ones. Now these habits and these actions are Wsible. 

"What, then, is the morality of actions a thing which falls under 
the cognizance of the senses ! Wherefore should it not ? Morality 
depends solely on the conformity between our actions and the laws ; 
but these actions are visible, and the laws are so equally, since they 
are certain conventions made by men. 

' But it will be said, if the laws are only things of convention, they 

R8 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



mast be altogether arbitrary. They may indeed be Bometinics arbi- 
trary ; there arc but too many such laws ; but those which dctemiiDC 
whether our actions are good or bad, arc not so, nor can they be »o. 
They are the work of man, it is true, because they are conventions 
which we have made ; nevertheless, we alone have not made them : 
nature made them as well as we, she dictated them to us, and it was 
not in our power to make others. The wants and the Taculticfi of 
man being given, the laws which are to regulate bin conduct must 
neccKsarily follow : and though wc enacted tbem, Gnd who has 
created us with such wants and such faculties, is in truth our sole 
legislator. In obeying the laws which arc conformable to our nature, 
wc render obedience to him who is the author of our nature; and 
this is that which perfects the morality of actions.* — Page 56. 

For a work entitled Logic, there arc a pleasant number of contra- 
dictions in this passage. To pass over many of them, if the laws 
here spoken of are such merely in consequence of their being visible, 
tlien all visible objects are laws, and all laws are equally moral. But 
no ! there are some arbitrary laws. Now if the goodness of the law 
depends on their conformity to our wants and faculties, neither of 
these are nsible, any more than God who is said to be our only law- 
giver. So that ' the latter end of this system of law and divinity 
forgets the beginning.* That those actions are moral which are 
conformable to a moral law, and that those taws arc moral, which 
are agreeable to our nature and wants, may be readily admitted : but 
I cannot myself think that this conformity is an object of t)ie senses, 
or that the true features of morality can ever be discerned but by the 
eye of the understanding. The friends of morality, it seems, accord- 
ing to our author, are not to despair, or to suppose that the distinctions 
of right and wrong are banished entirely out of the material system. 
They only become more clear and legible than ever; wc are still 
right in asserting virtue to have a real existence, namely, on paper, 
and in supposing that we have some idea of it, as consisting of the 

tcTB of the alphabet. Almost in the same manner, Mr. Home 
pTooke very gravely defines the essence of /a^u and _/w//, from the 
etymology of these words, to consist in their being something Aiid 
do'wn, and something ordtred (Juisum) ; and when pressed by the 
difficulty that there are many things laid down and ordered which 
arc neither laws nor just, he makes answer that their obligation 
depends on a higher species of law and justice, to wit, a law which 
is no where laid down, and a justice which is no where ordered, 
except indeed by the luturc of things, on which the etymology of 
these two words docs not seem to throw any light. 

On all the other points of the modem metaphysical system, such 

89 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

u the nature of abetractioo, judgment and reasoning, the materiality 
of the soul, irec-will, the aswciation of ideas, &c. Mr. Locke either 
halu between two opinions^ or else takes the commoD-pbcc side of 
the question. The motion of the Bystem, which bears his name and 
which by this very delay gained all that it wanted to become popular, 
was retrograde in him, not progressive. The extracts I am about to 
give from his work will 1 think establish this point. They will at 
the same time show him to be a man of strong practiciJ sense, of 
much serious ttiought and inquiry, and considerable freedom of 
opinion, and a real lover of truth, though not so bold and systematic 
a reasoner, or so great a dealer in paradoxes as some others. Modera- 
tion, caution, a wish to examine every side of a question, and an 
uowillingne«8 to decide till after the most mature and circumspect 
investigation, and then only according to the clearness of the evidence, 
seem to have been the characteristics of hii mind, none of which 
denote the daring innovator, or maker of a system. What there in 
of system in his work is Hobbes's, as I have already shown : the 
deviations from its common sense and general observation are hiR own. 
There is throughout his reasoning the same contempt for the Rchool- 
mcn, and the same preference of native, rustic reason to learned 
authority : the same notion of the necessity for reforming the system 
of philosophy, and of the possibility of doing this b)' a more exact 
use of words : there is the same dissatisfaction with the prcvniling 
system, but he at the same time cotcrtained doubts of his own. What 
he wanted was conlidence and decision. The prolixity and anthi- 
guity of his style seem to have arisen from this source : for he is 
never weary of examining and re-examining the same objection, and 
he suites his arguments with so many limitations and with such a 
variety of expression to prevent misapprehension, that it is often 
difficult to guess at his real meaning. There is it must lie confessed a 
Bort of heaviness about him, a want of clearness and connection, which 
in spite of all his pains, and the real plodding strength of his mind he 
was never able to overcome. To return to his account of complex 
ideas : the beginning of his observations on this subject is as follows : 

* We have hitherto considered those ideas, in the reception whereof 
the mind is only passive, which are those simple ones received from 
sensation and reflection before mentioned, whereof tlie mind cannot 
make one to itself, nor have any idea which does not consist wholly 
of them. But as the mind is wholly passive in the reception of all 
its simple ideas, so it exerts several acts of its own, whereby out of 
its simple ideas, as the materials and foundatione of the rest, the other 
are framed. The acts of the mind wherein it exerts its power over 
its simple ideas, arc chiefly these three. 

90 



I 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 

' 1 . Combining irwera] simple ideas into one componnd one, and 
thus all complex ideas are made, 2. Tbe second is bringing two 
ideas, whether simple or complex, together, and setting them by one 
another, so as to uke a view of them ac once, without uniting them 
into one; in which way it gets all its ideas of relatioru. 3. Tbe 
third is separating them from all other ideas that accompany them in 
their real existence ; thii is called ahitra£t'u>n : and thus all ita general 
ideas are made. This shows man's power to be much about the 
•ante in the material and intellectual world : for the materials in 
both being such as he has no power over, either to make or destroy, 
all that man can do is either to unite them together, or to set them 
by one another, or wholly to separate them/ — Vol. i. p. 151, 

The first great point which Mr. Locke labours to prove in his 
B«aay, is that there are no innate ideas which he aeems to hare 
established very fully and clearly, if indeed so obvious a truth recjuired 
any formal demonstration. His chief proofs are from the case of a 
man born blind, who has no idea of colours, and from the igoorancr 
which children and idiots have of those first principles and universal 
maxims, which some philosophers and theologians, confounding the 
faculties of the mind with actual impressions, had supposed to be 
(egibiy eograrrn on the mind by the hand of its author. For the 
•apposing the understanding to be a distinct faculty of the mind no 
more proves our ideas to be innate, than tbe allowing perception to 
be a distinct original faculty of the mind, which everybody does, 
proves that there must be innate sensations. These two positions 
have, however, been sometimes considered as convertible by the 
partisans on both sides of the question ; the one arguing from the 
existence of the soul and the power of thought to the positive percep- 
tion of certain truths, and the others concluding that by denying any 
original inherent impressions, they had overturned the supposition of 
the different faculties and powers which must be in the mind, to 
account for the first production or subsequent modification of sensa- 
tion or of thought. For instance, it has been made a consequence 
of the doctrine that there were no innate ideas, that there could be 
no such thing as genius, or an original difference of capacity ; as 
if the capacity were not perfectly distinct from the actual impressions 
by the very theory itself, and as if there might not be a difference in 
the capcity of acquiring ideas as all experience shows, though none 
in the knowledge acquired, because this capacity had never yet been 
exerted. As well might we argue that of two houses that are just 
built one is as commodious and capacious as tbe other, as well fitted 
for the reception of guests and the disposal of furniture, because at 
present neither of them is furnished or inhabited. 

9' 



i 



ON LOCKE*S ESSAY 



The following passages Mritl show the manner in which our author 
treats this part o( his subject : 

*Thc child certainly knows that the nurse that feeds it is neither 
the cat it plays with, nor the blaclcamoor it is afraid of: that the 
wormseed or mustard it refuses is not the apple or sugar it cries for ; 
this it is certainly and undoubtedly assured of: but will any one say 
it is by rirtue of this principle, T/jot it is impouibU for the tame thing 
to be and not to he, that it so (irmly assents to these and other parts 
of its knowledge? Or thai the child has any notion or apprehension 
of that proposition at an age» wherein yet, it is plain, it knows a 
great many other truths ? He that will say, children join these several 
abstract speculations with their sucking bottles and their rattles, may 
|>erfaap6 with justice be thought to have more passion and zeal for his 
opinion, but less sincerity and truth than one of that age. Though 
therefore there be several general proi>oiitions that meet with consunt 
and ready assent as soon as proposed to men grown up, who have 
attained the use of more general and abstract idcus, and names 
standing for them, yet they not being to be found in those of tender 
years, who nevertheless know other tilings, they cannot pretend to 
universal assent of intelligent persons, and so by no means can be 
supposed innate: it being impossible, that any truth which is innate 
(if there were any such) should be unknown, at least to any one who 
knows any thing else. Since if they are innate truths, they must be 
innate thoughts ; there being nothing a truth in the mind which it 
has never thought on. 

*That the general maxims we are discoursing of, are not known to 
children, idiots, and a great part of mankind, we have already sudi- 
ciently proved. But there is this farther argument against their 
being innate, that these characters, if they were nauve and original 
impressions, should appear fairest and clearest in those persons in 
whom yet we fmd no footsteps of them. And it is in my opinion a 
strong presumption that they are not innate, since they are least 
known to those in whom if ihey were innate, they must need exert 
themselves with most force and vigour. For children, idiots, 
savages, and illiterate people being of all others the least corrupted 
by custom or borrowed opinion, learning or education having not 
cast their native thoughts into new moulds, nor by superinducing 
foreign and studied doctrines, confounded those fair characters nature 
had written there ; one might reasonably imagine that in their minds 
these innate notions should lie open lairty to every one's view, as it is 
certain the thoughts of children do. One would think according to 
these men's principles that all these native beams of light (were there 
any such) should in those who have no reserves, no acts of conceal- 

92 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



meot, shine out ia their full lustre* and leave us in do more doubt 
of their being there than we are of their love of pleasure and abhor- 
rence of pain. But alas, amongst children, idiots, savaget, and the 
grossly illiterate, what general maxims are to be found * What uni- 
rcnal principle of knowledge ? Their notionit are few and narrow, 
borrowed only from those objects they have had mo«t to do with, and 
which have made upon their senses the iTCfjueotest and strongest im- 
pressions. A child knows his nurse and his cradle, and by degrees 
the playthiogs of a little more advanced age ; and a young savage has 
perhaps his head filled with love and hunting, according to the fashion 
of his tribe. But he that from a child untaught, or a wild inhabitant 
of the woods will expect these abstract maxims and reputed principles 
of science, will I fear find himself mitttalten. Such kind of general 
propositions [as that which is, is ; and that it is impossible for the 
«ame thing to be aod not to be] are seldom mentioned in the huts of 
lodiuia, much less are they to be found in the thoughts of children, 
or any impressions of them on the minds of naturals. They are the 
language and business of the schools and academies of learned nations, 
accustomed to that sort of conversation or learning, where disputes are 
frequent : these maxims being suited to artificial argumentatioD, and 
useAil for conviction, but not much conducing to the discovery of 
truth, or advancement of knowledge.* 

I do not know that Mr. Locke has sufficiently distinguished 
between two things which I cannot Tcry well express otherwise than by 
a turn of words, namely, an innate knowledge of principles, and innate 
principles of knowledge. His arguments seem to me conclusive against 
the one, but not against the other, for I think that there are certain 
general principles or forms of thinking, something like the moulds in 
which any thing is cast, according to which our ideas follow one 
another in a ccnain order, though the knowledge, f.r., perception of 
what these principles are, and the forming them into distinct proposi- 
tioDS is the result of experience. It is true, the child distinguishes 
between its nurse and the blackamoor, between bitter and sweet; 
what hinders it from confounding them ? The ideas of tame and 
Sfferent are not included in these ideas themselves, nor are they 
peculiar to any of them, but general terms. What then determines 
the child to aimex them uniformly to certain things and not to others ? 
It is plain then, that our ideas arc not at liberty to run into clusters as 
they please or as it happens, but are regulated by certain laws, to 
which they must conform ; or that the manner in which we conceive 
of things does not depend simply on the particular nature of the 
things, but on the general nature of the understanding. Mr. Locke 
is clear for certain iniute practical principles or general tendencies 

93 



ON LOCKERS ESSAY 



regulating all our actions, namelyy the love of pleaiure, and aversion to 
pain. He does not however admit, as I can 6nd, of any thing 
similar to the operations of the understanding. The analogy, notwith- 
standing! holds exactly the same in both cases. For the child is no 
more conscious of any such general practical principle regulating all his 
desircB, than of any speculative principle regulating his notion of 
things : he gets the idea of both from experience of their elfecta ; but 
I think that if there were no such principles in the mind itself, pre- 
vious to the actual impression of objects, and merely developed or 
called into action by them, we mu&t be perfectly indifferent both to the 
reception of pleasure and |)ain, as wc should feel no more repugnance 
to admit one conclusion than another, however absurd or contradictory. 
The necessity we are under of perceiving certain agreements or dis- 
agreements between our ideas is as much, and in the same sense, the 
foundation of judgment and reasoning, as the general desire of 
happiness and aversion to mi&ery is the foundation of morality. 

This property of the understanding, by which certain judgments, 
naturally follow certain perceptions, and are followed by other judg- 
ments, is the faculty of reason, of order and proportion in the mind, and 
is indeed nothing but the understanding acting by rule or necessity. 
The long controversy between Locke and Leibnitz with respect to 
innate ideas turned ujK)n ihe distinction here stated, innate ideas being 
thus referred not to the actual impressions of objects, but to the forms 
or moulds existing in the mind, and in which those impressions are 
cast. Leibnitz contended that there was a germ or principle of truth, 
a pre-established harmony between its innate faculties and its acquired 
ideas, implied in the essence of the mind itself. According to the 
one it was like a piece of free stone, which the mason hews with 
equal ease in all directions, and into any shape, as circumstances 
require : according to the other, it resembles a piece of marble strongly 
ingrained, with the (igure of a man, or other animal, inclosed in it, 
and which the sculptor has only to separate from the surrounding 
mass. 

I will add one more passage to draw the attention of my readers to 
this intricate subject, and to show that the dlfHcultics surrounding it 
were not completely cleared up or even ajiprchended by the author of 
the • Essay.' 

* Hath a child,' he says, * an idea of impossibility and identity, 
before it has of white or black, sweet or sour ? Or is it from the 
knowledge of this principle that it concludes chat wormwood rubbed 
on the nipple hath nut the same taste that it used to receive from 
thence ? Is it the actual knowledge of Impouibile est idem eiie et non 
etje that makes a child distinguish between its mother and a stranger, 

94 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



or ihat maka it food of the one, and Ay the other ? Or docs the 
miod regulate itaetf ind its useni by idea« that it dcvct had ? Or 
the ttDderttaading draw conclusions from principles which it never 
yet koew or underttood ? The names Im^nhtlxty and ttUntity stand 
for two ideas, w far from being innate^ or born with us, that 1 thiikk 
it rci^uires great care and attention to form them right in our under- 
nsodiDgfi. They are so far from l^eing brought into the world with ut, 
l/iao remote from the thoughtB of infancy and childhood, that I believe 
apoo cxamitutioQ it will be found that many grown men wont them. 

'If identity (to instance in that alone) be a native impression, and 
cooaequently so clear and obvious to us that we must needs know it 
c»en from our cradles ; I would gladly be resolved by one of seven or 
bcreoty years old. Whether a man, being a creature consisting of souJ 
and body, be the same man when his body is changed? Whether 
Euphorbtis and Pythagoras, having had the &amc sou), were the same 
man, though they lived several ages asunder I Nay, whether the 
cock too, which had the same soul, were not the same with both of 
tfaem? Whereby perhaps it will appear that our idea of sameness is 
not so settled and clear as to deserve to be thought innate in us. For 
if those innate ideas are not so clear and distinct as to be universally 
known and naturally agreed on, they cannot be subjecu of universal and 
undoubted truths, but will be the unavoidable occasion of perpetual un- 
certainty. For I suppose every one's idea of identity will not be the 
same that Pythagoras and thousand others of his followers have : and 
which then shall be true, which innate ? Or are these two different 
ideas of identity both innate? ' — Page 60. 

Two things are obvious to remark on this passage. First, it secnia 
clear tJ^t the child, before it can pronounce that one thing is or is not 
the same as another, must have the idea of what tame is, i.e, of identity : 
or it would be impossible for it to know what is or is not the same. 
This idea, then, is necessarily included in or the result of the first 
comparison it is able to make between any two of its irapresaioos as 
alike or unlike. Secondly, the ditScuIty of determining the quesuon 
proposed by Mr. Locke docs not arise from the meaning of the word 
ijeniity, but of the word man. For if this is once clear and settled, 
there will be no great elfort of the understanding required to determine 
whether a roan is the same or not. They detinc him to be a creature 
consisting of body and soul, and it is plain that if one of these, the 
body, is altered, the man is not the same. The whole question, 
therefore, here seems to turn on deciding what qualities are essential 
to the idea of man, so that by keeping or leaving out some, he will or 
will not retain his identity, in the practical and moral sense of the 
term. It is the complex and general idea of man that the child 

9% 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 



wants, aot that of idcDtity or sameoesa which is reflected to it from 
every object it meets, and which it perceives to agree or disagree 
with some other. 

In a note to one of the chapters on Innate Ideas, there is some 
account of the controversy between our author and the Bishop of 
Worcester (StiUingflett} on the question whether the idea of a God 
be innate and utuversa). The Binhop is anxious to have the universal 
belief in a Deity understood in a strict senee, while Mr. Locke thinks 
it must be reduced to a very gicat and decided majority, there being 
instances of whole nations without tins idea. * This,* he says * is all 
the universal consent which truth of raatter-of-fect will allow ; and 
therefore all that can be made use of to prove a God. I would crave 
leave to ask your lordship, were there ever in the world zny atheists 
or no? For if any one deny a God, such a perfect universality of 
consent is destroyed, and if nobody docs deny a God, what need o( 
arguments to convince atheists ? ' — Page 63. This is the acutest turn 
he has any where given to an argument. 

The concluding passage of his account of innate ideas is worth 
t|uoting. It is a good description of the true spirit of philosophy, in- 
clining a little too much to self-opinion, from which, perhaps, it is not 
easily separable : 

* What censure doubting thus of innate principles may deserve from 
n>en who will be apt to call it pulling up the old foundations of know- 
ledge and certainty, I cannot tell; I persuade myself at least that the 
way I have purnued, being conformable to truth, lays those foundations 
surer. This I am certain, I hare not made it my business to quit 
or follow any authority in the ensuing discourse ; truth has been my 
otily aim ; and wherever that has appeared to lead, my thoughts have 
impartially followed vrithout minding whether the footsteps of any 
other lay that way or no. Not that I want a due respect to other 
men's opinions ; but after all the greatest reverence is due to truth ; and 
1 hope it will not be thought arrogance to say, that perhaps we should 
make greater progreis in the discovery of rational and contemplative 
knowledge, if we sought it in the fountain, i« the consideration of things 
ihemselveSf and made use rather of our own thoughts than other men's 
to find it. For I think we may as rationally hope to see with other 
men's eyes, a& to know by other men's understandings. So much as we 
ourselves consider and comprehend of truth and reason, so much we 
possess of real and true knowledge. The floating of other men's 
opinions in our brains makes us not one jot the more knowing, though 
they happen to be true. What in them was science, is in us but 
opiniatrety, whilst we give up our assent only to reverend names, and 
do not, as they did, employ our own reason to uadcrsUnd those truths 

96 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



which gave them reputation. Aristotle was certainly a knowing 
man ; but nobody ever thought him so, because he blindly embraced 
and conlidently vented the o])inions of another. And if the talcing 
up of another's principles, without examining them, made not him a 
philoAopheri I suppose it will hardly make any body else so. In the 
sdesces, every one ba» so much as he really knows and comprehends : 
what he believes only and takes upon trust, are but shreds, which 
howe^'er well in the whole piece, make no considerable addition to his 
stock who gathers them. Such borrowed wealth, like fairy money, 
though it were gold in the hand from which he received it, will be 
bat leaves and duit when it comes to use.* — Page 80. 

In treating of the origin of our ideas, Mr. Locke labours to prove 
that men think not always : — thinking, according to him, being to the 
soul what motion is to the body ; not iu essence, but one of its 
operations. In this opinion he may, as far as I know, be right : but 
I think his proof of il drawn from the effects of sleep fails. The 
reason why 1 think so is that I was never awakened suddenly but I 
found myself dreaming, though in the interval required to awake 
gradually from sleep wc frequently forget our dreams before we are 
quite awalce^ the impressioos which objects have time to make upon 
our bodies taking place of and obUlcratiog the faint traces of our 
sleeping thoughts. The common notion that the mind is then most 
awake when the body is asleep, deserves the contempt with which Mr. 
Locke treats it. It is one of the absurdities of common tenje, which is 
not entirely free from them any more than philosophy. Those who can 
find any argument in favour of the immaterial nature and independent 
powers of the soul in the sublime flights which it takes when emancipated 
from the intrusion of sensible objects must hare finer dreams than I have. 
It would be well for this opinion if we could regularly forget the next 
morning the smart repartees, magniiiccnt sentiments and profound 
remarks we so often dream we make. The singular significance which 
in sleep we attach to absolute nonsense seems to arise from the very 
impotence of our efforts, as we fancy that we can fly because we cannot 
move at all. Id sleep, indeed, the forms of imagination assume the ap- 
pearance of reality, but this adranuge they seem to owe chiefly to what 
Hobbes calls the silence of sense. That sleep, however, consists wholly 
in this silence of scnue (not affecting the miad itself) is so far from being 
true, that it is not even necessary to it. Persons who walk in their 
sleep, as I know from experience, get out of bed with their eyes open, 
sec and feel the objects about them, open the window, and leisurely 
survey the opposite trees and houses, long before ihey recollect where 
they arc, or before the fresh air and the regular succession of known 
objects dispel the drowsy phantoms of the night. The only essential 
VOL. XI. : c 97 




ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 



difference between our ileeping and waking thoughu I believe iS| that 
in sleep the comprehensive faculty flags and droops ; so that being 
unable to consider many things at once or to retain a succession of ideas 
in mind, we confound things together, and pass from one object to 
another without order or connexion, any single circumstance in which 
thry agree being sufficient to make us associate them together or sub- 
stitute one for the other. Our thoughts are, as it were, disentangled 
from the circunistonces and consequences which at other times clog 
their motions : they are let loose, and left at liberty to wander in any 
direction that chance presents. The greatest singularity observable 
in dreams is the faculty of holding a dialogue with ourselves, as if we 
were really and effectually two persons. Wc make a remark, and 
then expect the answer, which we are to give ourselves, with the 
same gravity of attention, and hear it with the same surprise as if it 
were really spoken by another person. We are played upon by 
puppets of our own moving. We arc staggered in an argument by an 
unforeseen objection, or alarmed at a sudden piece of information of 
which we have no apprehension till it seems to proceed from the 
mouth of some one with whom we fancy ouraelves conversing. We 
have in fact no idea of what the question will be that we put to our- 
selves, till the moment of its birth. 

Mr. Locke in treating of our sensations as effects of the impressions 
of the qualities of things, distinguishes these qualitiesaccording to the 
usual opinion into primary and secondary. The former he considers 
as really and in themselves the same as they appear to our senses : the 
other as merely the effects produced by certain objects on the mind 
and not existing out of it. As this question forms one of the common- 
places of metaphysical inquiry, I shall give some account of it in his 
own words. 

*The qualities that arc in bodies, rightly considered, arc of three 
sorts. 

*■ First, The bulk, Itgurc, number, situation, and motion or rest of 
their solid parts ; these arc in them whether we perceive them or no ; 
and wc have by these an idea of the thing as it is in itself: these 1 
call primary qualities. 

• Secondly, The power thai is in any body by reason of its inscn- 
sible primary qualities to operate after a peculiar manner on any of 
oar senses, and thereby produce in us the different ideas of several 
colours, sounds, smells, tastes, &c. These are usually called sensible 
qualities. 

* Thirdly, The power that is in any body, by reason of the par- 
ticular constitution of its primary qualities, to make such a change id 
the bulk, figure, texture, and motion of another body, as to make it 

98 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



b 




opeT3t« on our •rases diffrrrady from what it did before. Thut the 
son has a power to make wax white, and fire to make lead fluid. 
Tbetc are usually called powert. 

' The iirst of thew, as hai been laid, 1 think, may be properly called, 
real, original, or primary qualities, because they are in the things 
themselre$, whether they are perceived or no : and upon their different 
modifications it is that the secondary qualities depend. The other 
two are only powers to act differently upon other things, which powers 
result from the different modifications of those primary qualities. 

* But though these two latter sorts of qualities are powers barely, 
and nothing but powers, relating to several other bodies, and resulting 
from the different modifications of the original qualities, yet they are 
generally thought otherwise of. For the second sort, tiz., the 
powers to produce sereral ideas in us by our senses are looked upon 
as real qualities in the things thus affecting us : but the third sort are 
called and esteemed barely powers. For example, the ideas of heat 
or light, which we receive by our eye or touch from the sun arc com- 
monly thought real qualities, existing in the sun, and something more 
than mere powers in it. But when we consider the sun in reference 
to wax which it melts or blanches, we look on the whiteness and 
softness produced in the wax, not as qualities in the sun, hut effects 
produced by ponvers in it : whereas, if rightly considered, these 
qualities of light and warmth, which arc perceptions in me when I am 
warmed or enlightened by the sun, are no otherwise in the sun than 
the changes made in the wax, when it is blanched or melted, are in 
the sun. They are all of them equally powers in the sun, defending 
on its primary qualities : whereby it it* enabled in the one ca^e so to 
alter the bulk, figure, texture, or motion of some of the insensible 
ports of my eyes or hands, as thereby to produce in me the idea of 
light or heat; and in the other, it is able so to alter the bulk, figure, 
texture, or motion of the insensible parts of the wax, as to make them 
fit to produce in me the distinct ideas oi white and fluid. The 
reason why the one are ordinarily taken for real qualities, and the 
other only for hare powers, seems to be, because the ideas we hare of 
distinct colours, sounds, &c., containing nothing at all in them of bulk, 
figure, or motion, we arc not apt to think them the tffects of those 
primary qualities which appear not to our senses to operate in their 
production, and with which they have not any apparent congruity or 
conceivable connexion. Hence It is that we arc so forward to 
imagine that those ideas are the resemblances of aomething really 
existing in the objects themselves. But in the other case, in the 
operation of bodies, changing the qualities, one of another, we plainly 
discover that the quality produced hath commonly no resemblance 

99 



ON LOCKERS ESSAY 



with any thing in the thing producing it ; wherefore we look on it a* 
k bare effect of power. For chough receiring the idea of heat or 
light from the sun, we are apt to think it is a perception and resem- 
blance of such a quality in the sun, yet when we see wax or a fair 
face receive change of colour from the sun, we cannot imagine that to 
be the perception or resemblance of any thing in the nun, because we 
find not those different colours in the sun itself. For our senses being 
able to observe a likeness or unlikeness of sensible qualities in two 
different external objects, we forwardly enough conclude the produc- 
tion of any sensible quality in any subject to be an effect of bare 
poweri and not the communication of any quality* which was really in 
the efficient* when we find no such srasible quality in the thing that 
produced it. But ourselves not being able to discover any unlikeness 
between the idea produced in us and the quality of the object pro- 
ducing it, we are apt to imagine that our ideas are resemblances of some 
thing in the objects, and not the effects of certain [>ower3 placed In the 
modification ot their primary qualities, with which primary qualities 
the ideas produced in us have no resemblance.' Vol. i. page 127. 

From the secondary qualities later writers, as Hume and Berkeley, 
have proceeded to the primary ones, and have endeavoured to shew 
that they have not a real existence out of the mind, any more than 
the others. Hume says, * The fundamental principle of the modern 
philosophy is the opinion concerning colours, sounds, tastes, smells, 
heat and cold,' &c. ; and Bishop Berkeley has made use of the same 
principle to banish the least particle of matter out of the universe. 
What Hume has said is merely taken from Berkeley, from whom 
his opinions arc generally borrowed. As I do not know that 1 shall 
have a better opportunity, I will here state Berkeley's arguments 
against the existence of these primary qualities, or his itiea/ system, in 
his own words. I will only first observe, on the argument against 
the existence of the secondary qualities of things, from their different 
effects in different circumstances and on different persons, which Hume 
considers as the only solid one, but which Berkeley thinks more 
doubtful, seems to me no argument at all ; for that an object changes 
its colour, or food its taste, is in consequence of distance or of the 
interposition of another object, or of the indisposition of the organ, and 
does not prove that the object has not a particular colour, or the food 
a particular uste, but that colour is combined with and altered by the 
colour of the air, and that taste is combined with and altered by another 
taste in the mouth or stomach. The logical inference is merely that 
one object has not the same sensible qualities as another, or, as Berkeley 
has remarked, that we do not know what the true or natural qualities 
of any object are, 

100 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



■ It is eridcot/ says Bishop Berkeley, * to any one who takes a 
surrey of the objects of Humao Knowledge, that they are either ideas 
actually impriatcd on the senses, or else such as are perceived by 
attending to the passions and operations of the mind, or, lastly, ideas 
formed by help of memory and imagination ; either compounding, 
dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the 
aforesaid ways. By sight I have the ideas of light and colours, with 
their several degrees and vuriations. By touch I perceive hard and 
ioft« heat and cold, motion and resisunce, &c. and of all these more 
and less, either as to quantity or degree. Smelling furnishes me with 
odours : the palate with tastes ; and hearing conveys sounds to the 
mind in all their variety of tone and composition. And as several of 
these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked 
by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, forexample* 
a certain colour, taste, smelt, figure, and consistence, having been 
observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by 
the name oppU, Other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, 
a book, and the like sensible things ; which, as they are pleasing or 
disagreeable, excite the passions of [ovc, hatred, joy, grief, &c. 

* 2- But besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of 
knowledge, there is likewise something which knows and perceives 
ihem, and exercises divers operations, as willing, imagining, remem- 
bering, &c. about them. This perceiving, active being is what I call 
mt/W, spirit^ soul, or myself. By which words I do not denote any 
one of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them, wherein they 
exist, or, which is the same thing, whereby they are perceived, for 
the existence of an idea consists in being perceived. 

* 3. That neither our thoughtSf nor passions, nor ideas formed by 
the imagination, exist without the mind, is what every body will 
allow ; and to me it is no less evident (hat the various sensations ur 
ideas imprinted on the sense, however blended or combined together, 
(that is, whatever objecu they compose,) cannot exist otherwise than 
in a mind perceiving them. I think an intuitive knowledge may be 
obtained of this, by any one that shall attend to what is meant by the 
term exUty when applied to lenviblc things. The table I write on, I 
say, exiBt« ; f.^. I sec and feel it, and if 1 were out of my study, I 
should say it existed, meaning thereby, that if I was in my study 
I might perceive it, or that some other spirit actually does perceive it. 
There was an odour, t.e, it was smelt ; there was a sound, i.t. it was 
heard ; «i colour or figure, and it was perceived by sight or touch. 
This is all that I can uodersund by these and the like expressions. 
For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things 
without any relation to their being percaved, that ts to me perfectly 

201 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

UDinteUigiblc. Their esse is ptrdpi, nor is it poitiible they should have 
any existence, out of the minds or tbinliing things which perceive 
them. 

* 4. It is indeed an opioioo strangely prevailing among men, that 
houses, mountains, rivers, and in a word all sensible objects, have 
an existence natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the 
understanding. But with how great an assurance and acquiescence 
soever this principle may be entertained in the world, yet whoever 
shall fmd in his heart to call it in question, may, if I mistake not, 
perceive it to involve a manifest contradiction. For what are thel 
forementioncd objects but the things we perceive by sense, and what^ ' 
I pray you, do we perceive besides our own Ideas or seosattoos i And { 
is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these, or any combination 
of them, should exist unperceivcd ? 

• 5. If we thoroughly examine this tenet, it will, perhaps, be found 
at bottom to depend oo the doctrine oi abstracl ij^at. For can there 
be a nicer strain of abstraction than to distinguish the cxiateoce of 
sensible objects from their being perceived, so as to conceive them 
existing unperceived? Light and colours, heat and cold, extension 
and figures, in a word, the things we see and feel, what are they but 
80 many sensations, notions, ideas, or impressions on the sense ; and 
is it possible to separate, even in thought, any of these from perception ? 
For my part, I might as easily divide a thing from itself. I may, 
indeed, divide in my thoughts, or conceive apart from each other, J 
those things which, perhaps, I never perceived by sense so divided. 
Thus I imagine the trunk of a human body without the limbs, or coo-j 
ceive the smell of a rose without thinking on the rose itself. So far 
I will not deny I can abstract, if that may be properly called abstrac- 
tion which extends only to the conceiving separately such objects as 
it is possible may really exist or be actually perceived asunder. But 
my conceiving or imagining power does not extend beyond the 
possibility of real existence or perception. Hence, as it is impossible 
for me to see or feel any thing without an actual sensation of that 
thing, so it is impossible for me to conceive in my thoughts any 
sensible thing or object distinct from the sensation or perception of it. 
In truth, the object and the sensation are the same thing, and cannot 
therefore be extracted from each other. 

' 6. Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind that a 
man need only open his eyes to sec them. Such I take this important 
one to be, viz. that all the choir of heaven, and furniture of the earth, 
in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame oi the 
world, have not any subsistence without a mind, that their eae is to 
be perceived or known ; that consequently, so long as they are not 

101 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



actually perceivw! by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any 
other created spirit, they must either have no existence at ali, or else 
lubsist in the mind of some eternal spirit: it being perfectly unintel- 
ligible, and involving all the absurdity of abstraction, to attribute to 
any single part of them an existence independent of a spirit. To 
make this appear with all the light and evidence of an axiom, tt leema 
sufficient if I can but awaken the reljection of the reader, that he may 
take an impartial view of his own meaning, and turn his thoughts upon 
the subject itself, free :ind disengaged from all embarrass of words and 
prepOMession in favour of received mistakes. 

* 7. From what has been said, it is evident there is not any other 
substance than spirit, or that which perceives. But for the fuller 
demonstration of this point, let it be considered, the sensible (Qualities 
are colour, Azure, motion, smell, taste, &c. ; i.e. the ideas perceived 
by sense. Now, for an idea to exist in an uspcrceinog thing is a 
manifest contradiction ; for to have an idea is all one as to perceive; 
that, therefore, wherein colour, figure, &c. exist must perceive them. 
Hence it is clear there can be no unthinking substance or lubitratum 
of those ideas. 

* 8. But, say you, though the ideas themselves do not exist without 
the mind, yet there may be things like them whereof they are copies 
or resemblances, which things exist without the mind, in an unthinking 
substance. I answer, an idea can be like nothing but an idea, a 
colour or Ggurc, can be like nothing but another colour or figure. If 
we look but never so little into our thoughts, we shall find ii impossible 
for us to conceive a likeness except only between our ideas. Again, 
I ask whether those supposed originals, or external things, of which our 
ideas are the pictures or representations, be themselves perceivable or 
no? If they arc, then they are ideas, and we have gained our point; 
but if you say they are not, I appeal to any one whether it be sense 
to assert a colour is like something which is invisible: hard or soft, 
like something which is intangible, and so of the rest. 

* 9. Some there arc who make a distinction between primary and 
teconJary qualities ; by the former, they mean extension, figure, 
motion, rest, solidity or impenetrability, and number ; by the latter, 
they denote all other sensible qualities, as colours, Rounds, tastes, 3cc. 
The ideas we have of these they acknowledge not to be the resem- 
blances of any thing existing without the mind, or unpcrceived, but 
they will have our ideas of the primary qualities to be patterns or 
Images of things which exist without the mind, in an unthinking 
tubstance, which they call matter. By matter, therefore, we are to 
tioderstand an inert, useless substance, in which extension, figure, 
motion, 5cc. do actually subsist. But it is evident from what we have 

103 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 

and bis followers^ Without extcndon, lolidtty cannot be cooceired ; 
iince, therefore, it has been shown that extension exisu not in an 
unthinking substance, the same must also be true of solidity. 

* 12. That number is entirely the creature of the mind, even 
though the other qualities be allowed to exist without it, will be 
evident to whoever considers that the same thing bears a different 
denominatiun of number, as the mind views it with di^ereoc aspects. 
ThuB the same extcnfiion is one, or three, or thircy-&ix, according 
as the mind considers it with reference to a yard, a foot, or an inch. 
Number is so visibly relative, and dependent on men's understandings, 
that it is strange to think bow any one should give it an abiiolute 
existence without the mind. We say oru book, oru page, one line, 
&c., aU thc«e are equally units, though some contain several of the 
others ; and in each instance it is plain the unit relates to some 
particular combination of ideas arbitrarily put together by the mind. 

* 13. Unity, I know, some will have to be n simple or uncom- 
pounded idea, accompanying all other ideas into the mind. That I 
have any such idea answering the word unity I do not find, and if I 
had, methinks I could not miss Bnding it ; on the contrary, it should 
be the most familiar to my understanding, since it is said to accom- 
pany all other ideas, and to be perceived by all the ways of sensation 
and reflection.^ To say no more, it is an abstract idea, 

* 14. I shall farther add, that after the same manner as modern 
philosophers prove colours, tastes, &c., to have no existence in 
matter, or without tlie mind, the same thing may be Ukewisc proved 
of all other sensible qualities whatever. Thus for instance, it is 
said, that heat and cold are affections only of the mind, and not 
at all patterns of real beings existing in the corporeal substances 
which excite them, for that the same body which appears cold to 
one band, seems warm to another. Now, why may we not as welt 
argue, that figure and extension are not patterns or resemblances of 
qualities existing in matter, because to the same eye at different 
stations, or eyes of a different texture at the same station, they 
appear various, and cannot therefore be the images of any thing 
ttettled and determinate without the mind ? Again, 'tis proved that 

' This rclat«i lo wlial Mr. Locke layi of unity, whom ill tucceeding writen 
hive nude a point of bringing furwarH on all occisioia, merely for the purpnie of 
diffiering from bim. They let liim up at Uie itaadard, w ntPUi ultra of profound 
wuHom, and yet ihey alwaya conltivc to go beyond him. I will juit add, by the 
bye, on this argument aboDt number, that the fair way of puRing it is by ailcing 
whether one combination of ideal il not different from anollwr, or whether one 
fool or one inch i> the lame with thtrty-iii feet, or thirty-aix ioch«, not whether 
oae foot il the lame aa thirty-ttx incbea. Otbcrwiie there will remain • real 
dtatioction of number, botli io idea and in fact. 

105 





t2koie afgaaieDU which are 

tattn, &C. exist only in 

imd ckcy mtcf mA cifiaJ force be brought 

: <f csMBHB^ fawL, avl nocxm. Though 

. mf afSHBf does oot to much prove 

r, ftc ■ ■■ ODtmd object, u that 

ii ^m trme eztession or colour of 

pfainiy ihow it to be 

II aU, or other sensible 

[ m ^ vdbnkaig«Bbject viihout the 

be mf nek ihmg as an outward 

p^ 54. Ac, 

5* — 

: aoS^ %ve>i aiovable substances 
~ lo ifce Weas we have of 
far «• B» kaom tfak? Either we must 
At fiat oar «ca«es, bj them we haTe 
n» or tbose thinge that are 
h^ «Bi^ cdl tfacB vkit you will ; but they 
: tbe mux), or unperccived, 
TIk ihe materialists themselves 
. lhini w < » tfcit if we have any knowledge 
t.iK SBK W bv RMOS« ifiicrniig their existeoce 
p a rcewca by icnae. But I do not see 
M btHeve tiM cziscence of bodies without 
«* fCfCim^ Mcr the very purons of matter 
ifccfC «. «ay pecMiary connexion betwixt 
t 1^ k «» l^ttMd oa all hands (and what 
md ^ file, puts it beyond dispute) 
b* titcttd with all the ideas we have 
t rxMUig whbout resembling them. 
Hn^l ^ 1^ tviiitM tW aHMHAte af ftSCHna] bodies is not necessary 
6m ^ MtihaHl^ ««r «Anik iaet k b gtaaitcd they arc produced 
aai ai^ |rjMbl| b« wa£eed «lway>, in the same 
«(^ «t >«• ^bc« ia M *r«iM^ vnoat tfaeir concurrence. But 
^biMbk «a imVi iiTwtfltj Mt«a iV aar aaiitianf without them, yet 
MI^Mb ^ MmW dMi^bk «MKT to c f C t a ** wd explain the maDner 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 

of thtir prodactioDf by suppoiing external bodies in their likcoeu 
riiher than otherwiM, and so it might be at least probable there are 
»uch thiogc ia bodies that excite their ideas in our minds. But 
oeither can this be said, for though we gire the materialists their 
external bodies, ihey, by their own confeasioD, are nerer the nearer 
knowing bow our ideas are produced, since they own themseUes 
unable to comprehend in what manner body can act upon spirit, or 
how it is possible it should imprint any idea in the miaa. Hence it 
is evident the production of ideas or sensations in our minds, can be 
no reason why we should suppose matter or corporeal substances, 
since that is acknowledged to remain equally inexplicable with, or 
without this suppofition. If therefore it were poisible for bodies to 
eust without the mind, yet to hold they do so, muqt needs be a very 
precarious opinion ; since it is to suppose, without any reason at all, 
that God has created innumerable beings that are entirely UMlesB, and 
»erve to no manner of purpose. 

* But tay what we can, some one perhaps might be apt to reply, 
he will still believe his senses, and never suffer any arguments, how 
plauftible soever, to prevail over the certainty of them. Be it so, 
u«ert the evidence of sense as high as you please, we arc willing to 
do the same. That what I sec and hear, and feel, doth exist, i.e. it 
perceived by me, I no more doubt than I do of my own being : but 
I do not see how the testimony of sense can be alleged as a proof 
for the existence of any thing which is not perceived by sense. We 
are not for having any man turn sceptic, and disbelieve his senses ; 
on the contrary, we give them all the stress and assurance imaginable, 
nor arc there any principles more opposite to scepticism than those 
we have laid down, as shall be hereafter clearly shown. Secondly, 
it will be objected that there is a great difference between real fire, 
for instance, and the idea of fire, betwixt dreaming or imagining 
oneself burnt and actually being so : if you suspect it to be only the 
idea of fire which you see, do but put your band into it, and you *ll 
be convinced with a witness. This and the like may be urged in 
opposition to our tenets. To all which the answer is evident from 
what hath been already said, and I shall only add in this place, 
that if real fire be very different from the idea of fire, so also is the 
real paio that it occasions very different from the idea of the same 
pain, and yet nobody will pretend that real pain either is, or can 
possibly be, in an unperceiving thing or without the mind, any more 
than its idea.' 

Now with regard to this system, whatever we may think of the 
solidity of the foundation, the ttuperstructure is as light and elegant as 
possible. There is a peculiar character in the metaphysical writings 

t07 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

of Berkeley which is to be found no where else. With all the 
cloKncss and subtilty of the deepest rejection, they combine the 
ease and vivacity of a common essay : so that the most violent 
paradoxes and elaborate distinctions are rendered familiar by the 
iimplicity of the style. His writings show that he bad thought 
with the utmost intensity on almost every subject, yet he hae the 
same careless freedom of manner as if he had never thought at all. 
He is never entangled in the labyrinth ol his own thoughts, and the 
buoyancy of his spirit surmounts every objection with a singular 
felicity, as if his mind had wings. It is perhaps worth remarking 
chat the * Principles of Human Knowledge ' were published in 
1710, at a lime when the author was only 6ve-and-twenty, as was 
the * Essay on Vision/ the greatest by far of all his works, and the 
most complete example of elaborate analytical reasoning and particular 
induction joined together that perhaps ever existed. It is auo gener- 
ally free from that air of paradox and fanciful hypothesis which runs 
through his othrr writings.^ I mention this the more because I 
believe that the greatest efforts of intellect have almost always been 
made while the passions arc in their greatest vigour, and before hope 
loses its hold on the heart, and is the elastic spring which animates 
all our thoughts. 

On the reasoning I hare just quoted I will make one or two 
remarks without pretending to enter into the real diAiculties of the 
question. First, it seems to me that the argument against the exist- 
ence of the secondary qualities, drawn from the various effects pro- 
duced by them on dilrereot minds or in different circumstances, which 
Hume mentions as the only solid one, and which Berkeley thinks 
more doubtful, is no argument at all. That an object at a distance, 
for example, does not look like the same object near is in consequence 
of the interposition of the air, which gives it a different hue i the 
logical inference merely is that one object has not the same sensible 
qualities as another, or as Berkeley has remarked, since the effect 
depends upon the combination and reaction of a number of things that 
we do not know what the true or natural qualities of each object are. 

2. The proof of the non-existence of the primary qualities or of 
matter altogetlier, as inconceivable by the mind, goes upon the sup- 
position that what is difii^rent cannot be the same. * An idea,^ says 



' The two mcQ of the greatnt ibilitjr in modcra timea as oittaphyitcians, tlut 
i«, with tK« greatcit power of teeing thJnga in ibe abstract, aod of purtuiug a 
principle lato all iti coniequencei, are in my opinion Hobbei and Berkeley : after 
them come Hume and Harlley. Compared with tbcic Locke waa a mere common 
practical man t of the four, I think Hobbei waa at the head, ai the othcra only 
worked out the materiala with which he furniahcd them. 
108 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 

Berkeley, * can be like DOthing but an idea, a percepiioD like nothing 
but a perception.' But it might be proved in this manner that a 
prim cannot resemble a picture, because that which haa colour cannot 
be represented by any thing without colour. That as far as our ideas 
are perceptions they do not resemble any thing in matter is true, but 
DO one ever supposed that in this respect there was any resemblance 
between them, or that matter thought. That they cannot be alike in 
any thing does not seem to me prored by this mode of reasoning : 
for that our ideas of things are not mere perceptions is evident from 
thtSf that they are different among themselves, that is, have other 
^distinguishing qiialities besides being perceived. 

3. Berkeley s argument against the existence of matter not merely 

as the object or archetype, but as the cause of our sensations, is 

founded 00 the notion that we have a right to reject every general 

conclusion in which there is the least flaw or difficulty. Common 

Liense is brought to the bar, like an old ofTender, and condemned upon 

Idle slightest shadow of evidence. If the vulgar system is vulnerable 

to any pan, it is taken for granted that it ought to be discarded, to 

make room for a perfectly rational and philosophical account, the 

Lvufhciency of the understanding being never once doubted. But all 

^tbis severe logic and scrutiny into the perfect connexion of our ideas 

vanifihcs, when the author comes to explain the cause of our external 

impressions or to find a substitute for matter. This, he says, is God 

or an all-powerful spirit, and yet he afTirms that we have no more idea 

of spirit than of matter, and consequently the one ought upon this 

theory to pass for a nonentity as much as the other. 

• Wc perceive a continual succession of ideas, some are anew 
excited, others arc changed or totally disappear. There is therefore 
some cause of those ideas, whereon they depend, and which produces 
and changes them. That this cause cannot be any quality or idea or 
combination of ideas, is clear from what has been said. It must 
therefore be a substance, but it has been shewn that there is no cor- 
poreal or material substance. It remains therefore that the cause of 
ideas is an incorporeal active subsuncc or spirit. 

* A spirit is one simple, undivided, active being: as it perccivcB 
ideas, it is called the undcrsunding, and as it produccFi or otherwise 

Sierates about them, it is called the will. Hence (here can be no 
ea formed of a soul or spirit. For all ideas whatever being passive 
and inert, they cannot rcprcKcnt unto ua by way of image or likeness 
that which acts. Such is the nature of spirit or that which acts, that 
it cannot be itself perceived, but only by the effects which it pro- 
daceth. If any man shall doubt of the truth of what is here delivered, 
let him but reflect and try if he can frame the idea of any power or 

109 



ON LOCKE S ESSAY 



actiTC being. A little attention will make it plain to any one, that to 
bare an idea which shall be like that active principle of motion and 
change of ideai» is absolutely impossible.' Ihat is to sayi matter is 
here excluded from being the cause or in any way the occasion of our 
ideas, because we know not what it is, and the Inference is, that the 
cause of our ideas must be spirit, of which we are equally ignorant. 
The reasoning might have been reversed. But it is thus that philo- 
sophy seems to be in gener.il nothing else but * reason pandering 
will.' The literal conclusion from the foregoing argument is, that 
there is nothbg in the universe but one-self, nor even that, but only 
theprescnt idea : all other words must signify nothing. 

To return to Mr. Locke. He has treated on the same question 
in the second volume, but without advancing any thing remarkable 
on it, and it is the only place in which he loses his temper, and 
fubstitutes ridicule for argument. 

In the chapter on Perception, there are some observations on the 
manner in which our judgments alter the impressions of sensible 
objects, which are well worth notice, and show that the author was 
well acquainted with what may be called the practical processes of 
the human mind. 

He says, p. 1 30, * We are farther to consider concerning percep- 
tion, that the ideas we receive by sensation are often in grown people 
altered by the judgment without our taking notice of it. When we 
set before our eyes a round globe of any uniform colour, f.g. gold, 
alabaster, or jet, it is certain that the idea thereby imprinted in our 
mind is of a flat circle, variously shadowed with several degrees of 
light and brightness coming to our eyes. But we having by use been 
accustomed to perceive what kind of appearance convex bodies are 
wont to make in us, what alterations are made in the reflections of 
light by the difference of the sensible ^gurcs of bodies, the judgment 
presently, by an habitual custom, alters the apjiearances into thdr 
causes ; so that from that which truly is variety of shadow or colour, 
collecting the figure, it makes it pass for a mark of figure, and frames 
to itself the perception of a convex figure and an uniform colour, 
when the idea we receive from thence is only a plane variously 
coloured; as is evident in painting. To which purpose I Khali here 
insert a problem of that very ingeniouii and studious promoter of 
real knowledge, the learned and worthy Mr. Molincux, which he 
was pleased to send me in a letter some months since : and it is this : 
*' Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch 
to distinguish between 11 cube and a sphere ot the same metal and 
nigh of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt the one and the 
other, which is the cube, which the sphere. Suppose then the cube 

no 




ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 

xnd ffphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see : Qnere, 

whether by bin tight, before he touched them, he could now distin- 
guiih and tell which is the globe, which the cube ? *' To which the 
acute and judicious proposer answers, ** No. For though he has 
obtained tlie experience of how a globe, how a cube afTects his touch, 
yet he has nut yet atuined the experience that what affects his touch 
so or so, muRt aifect hie sight so or so ; or that a protuberant angle in 
the cube that pressed his hand unequally, shall appear to his eye as it 
does in the cutie.'* I agree' (says Mr. Locke) 'with this thinking 
gentleman, whom I am proud to call my friend, in his answer to this 
his problem ; and am of opinion that the blind man at first sight, 
would not be able with certainty to say, which was the globe, which 
the cube, whil»t he only saw them ; though he could unerringly name 
them by his touch, and ceruinly distinguish them by the difference 
of their figures felt* This I have set down, and leave with my 
reader as an occasion for him to consider how much he may be 
beholden to experience, improvement, and acquired notions, where 
he thinks he has not the least use of, or help from them, and the 
rather, because this observing gentleman farther adds, that having 
opon the occasion of my book, proposed thi» to divers very ingenious 
roeni he hardly ever met with one that at first gave the answer to it 
which he thinks true, till by hearing his reasons they were convinced.' 
Mr. Locke then adds other instances to the same elfect, as *That a 
man who reads or hears with attention and understanding takes little 
notice of tlie characters or sounds, but of the ideas that are excited in 
hira by them. How frequently do we in a day cover our eyes with 
our eye-lids, without at all perceiving that we are in the dark ! Men 
that by custom have got the use of a by-word do almost in every 
sentence pronounce sounds, which though taken notice of by othersi 
they themselves neither hear nor observe : and therefore it is not so 
strange that our mind should often change the idea of its sensation 
into that of its judgment, and make one serve only to excite the other 
without our taking notice of it.' 

On the problem above stated, which has been often made a subject 
of dispute, I shall only remark that the answer given to it, with 
which Mr. Locke agrees, is directly repugnant to bis doctrine of the 
real existence of the primary qualities of matter, namely figure and 
extension. For it is plain, that if there is any thing in external 
objects answering to their ideas in our minds, the ideas we have of 
those qualities and which are conveyed by dilferent senses, must be 
like one another. If the ideas of figure as a visible and tangible 
thing have no resemblance to themselves, it is ridiculous to suppose 
that they can coincide with any thing out of them in nature. Secondly, 

III 





tttJo g Mu c I ccrtiio umilarity 
I m this cue. For inscaDce, 
' of ite gfinfioB, produced by the 
i dt^K a^ ii wame^^ cooHBoa to both ideas, uid ii 
k «f cVM^Hmg ilMn logethcr. BerkeJey, in his 
' •• ^fmm,* fMt m ftt m to desy dot tbere is any intuitiTe 
Ik idaaa «f anbcr at co Bic^fe d by diifereot tenacs, 
t llal ife Aoctiaa bnw.ia the two legs of a statue, for 
I bf ike uacfa or bj the sight would Dot impljl 
r ttM fffifcr «t mse. 1 piM tbis ro as cr^ oence to be true, on the 
MMttfewd by Imn t^ then uc do abstract ideas in the 
«• tUa f n a c i y k tWtv caa be oo idea answering to the 
9 «r iif/mmt% hm ibca xkit argvmeDt would destroy all kind 
Mt mh bctwvcfl ideas of different senses, but between 
HOtlbeMmeame. The 'Essay on Vision,' of 
I lave aknidy ipokciw apparently originated in the problem 
> teMtwd, Mid u a more complete cxemplificatioD of the effects of 
with respect to objects of sight than is to be found even in 
Rvtliy^S iccount of this subject. 

Mr<. r&cke's account of the distinction between wit and under- 
l ha»e already noticed ; his explanation of the difference 
idiots and madmen has been often referred to» and is u 

* The defect in naturals Ncems to proceed from want of quickness, 
Ktivity, and motion in the intellectual faculties, whereby they are 
deprived of reason : whereas madmen, on the other side, seem to 
saner by the other extreme. For they do not appear to me to hare 
lost the faculty of reasoning ; but having joined together &ome Ideas 
%ery wrongly, they mistake them for truths ; and they err as men do 
that argue right from wrong principles : for, by the violence of their 
imaginations, having taken their fancies for realities, they make right 
deductions from them. Thus you shall find a distracted man, fancying 
himself n king, with a right inference require suitable attendance, 
respect, and obedience : others, who have thouj^ht themselves made 
of glass, have used the caution necessary to preserve such brittle 
bodies. Hence it comes to pass, that a man who is very sober, and 
of a right understanding in all other tilings, may in one jurticuJar be 
as frantic as any in Bedlam, if either by any sudden very strong 
impression, or long fixing his fancy upon one wrt of thoughts, 
incoherent ideas have been cemented together jo powerfully as to 
rerotio united. But there are degrees of madness 38 of foUy; the 
disorderly jumbling together of ideas is in some more, and some less. 
In short, herein seems to tie the difference between idiots and mad- 

iia 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



I 



tato : that tnadmcn put wrong ideas together, and so make wrong 
propositions, but argue and reasoD right from them : but idiots make 
very few or no propotitions, and reason scarce at all/ 

Mr. Locke'i account of Liberty and Necessity, contained id hit 
chapter *On Power,' has been commented upon in the previous Essay. 
As is there remarked, it is one which has been more found fault with 
than any other part of his work, 1 think without reason. He seems 
endcDtly to haTC admitted the deHnition of necessity, but not the 
name, which is not much to be wondered at, considering the improper 
use to which it is liable, and which can scarce be separated from it in 
the closest reasoning, much less as a term of general signilication : in 
other words, he denies the power of the mind to act without a cause 
or motive, or, in any manner, in any circumstances, from mere 
indifference and absolute self-motion ; but be at the same time denies 
the inference which has been drawn from this principle, that the mind 
is not an agent at all, but altogether subject to external force, or Uind 
impolie. 

Mr. Locke, in treating of complex ideas, divides them into three 
sorts, those of modes, substances, and relations. 

First, * Modes,' he says, • I call such complex ideas, which, 
however compounded, contain not in them the supposition of subsisting 
by themselves, but are considered as dependences on, or affections of 
iubetances : such are the ideas signified by the "woxA^tr tangle, gratiiude^ 
murder^ &c. Of these modes there are two sorts, i. There are 
some which are only variadons or different combinations of the same 
simple idea, without the mLxture of any other, as a do^jn or score^ 
which are nothing but the ideas of so many distinct units added 
together, and these I call simple modes. 2. Inhere arc others, com- 
pounded of simple ideas of several kinds put together, to make one 
complex one ; e.g, beauty^ consisting of a certain composition of colour 
and 6gure, causing delight in the beholder ; tkeft^ which being the 
concealed change of the possession of any thing, without the consent 
of the proprietor, contains, as is visible, a combination of several ideas 
of several kinds, and these I call mixed modet.' 

With respect to modes, the author endeavours to shew, I think 
improperly, that as they are put together arbitrarily by the mind, 
according to circumstances, that they have 00 real existence in nature, 
and that the ideas we form of them are always correct- Neither of 
these consequenccfi will be found to follow : i.e. the circumstances and 
actions which constitute theft do actually exist without the mind ainl 
are necessary to that idea, though it is arbitrary in me according to the 
occasion or the purpose in view, to think of that collection of ideas or 
another, which nhall constitute robbery ; that is, I may add or leave 

vou XI. : H 113 




ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

out the circumfitance of violence, as it happens; secondly, I may, 
without being aware of it, add or leave out some circumstance 
necessary to the combination of ideas spolccn of, and thus conliise one 
idea with another, and not merely miscal, as Mr. Locke supposes, but 
misconceive the mode in question. We then merely miscal when 
though we give a wrong name to a thing, the idea is kept perfectly 
distinct and clear from other ideas, otherwise we confound both 
names and things. But it wilt not be contended, that the ideas of 
theft, robbery, and fraud, for instance, are always kept clear in every 
one's mind, so that he is at no loss ever to define them, or can 
immediately in all cases reter any action to the class to which it 
belongs. Every collecttOD of ideas which the mind puts together is 
ondoubtedly that collection and no other ; but in forming the ideas of 
mixed modes, the mind does something more than this, or it supposes 
one collection of ideas to be the same as another which it has had at 
a former time, and gives a certain name to, and in this supposition it 
often errs. 

On this subject, the author is a good deal puzzled with the question, 
how it is possible for the mind ever to confound one idea with 
another? It is indeed a puzzling question, but the answer which he 
gives to it in resolving it into a mistake of words, is very unsatisfactory. 
For there is no more reason why we should mistake one name or sign 
of an idea for another, than why we should mistake the ideas them- 
selves. If every circumstance belonging to our ideas was necessarily 
clear and self-evident to the mind, the sign afhxed to it, which is one 
of thoie circumstances, would be so too, and we dnd that in those 
thiogi with which we have a thorough acquainunce, we never con- 
found one name with another, or if we should, it does not disturb the 
idea, and is of no consequence. 

Among the second sort of complex idcaii Mr. Locke classes those 
of substances. These, he says, are such combinations of simple 
ideas i& are taken to represent distinct, particular things, subsisting 
by themselves, in which the supposed or confused idea of substance, 
such as it is, is always the first or chief. Thus, if to substance be 
joined the simple idea of a certain dull whitish colour, with certain 
degrees of weight, hardness, ductility and fusibility, we have the 
idea of lead ; and a combination of the ideas of a certain sort of 
figure, with the power of motion, thought, and reasoning, joined to 
8ub«tancc, make the ordinary idea of a man. Now of substances 
also there are two sorts of ideas ; one of single substances, as they 
exist separately, as of a man or a sheep ; the other of several of 
those put together, as an army of men or a flock of sheep : which 
collective ideas of several 6ub«taDces are as much each of them one 




ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



^ 



nogle idea u that of 2 nun or ao snit.* He then addi, * and the 
third fort of complex ideas is that which wc call relatire^ which 
cooiuu in the conauferauOD and comparing one idea with another.* 
Thif last son of ideas teems to me the ooly ones that are perfectly 
aimpte and indivisible : things themscl-ves are always complex. 
21r. Lodce conaiders rightly that we know nothing of the nature 
of MliKaDCc, and that we can only define it as an abttrict idea of 
•one thing, that supports accidents or connects different sensible 
qoaliiies together. For this modest confession of his own ignorance 
he was however called to a very severe account by the learned of 
the time, Bishop Stilliogflcet and others, who thought they knew 
more of the matter, and could penetrate the essence of things. 
The * Hisay on the Human Understanding * is swelled out with 
repeated and long extracts from this controversy, and they are ikot 
the least valuable part of the work, as they show to what shifts 
men can be driren, to defend systematically not truth but their own 
opinion, who become blind and obstinate by implicit faith, and who 
by adhering to every established prejudice drive others into all the 
absurdities of paradox. 

Mr. Locke's own account of our ideas of subsunce is a good 
deal span out, and is enriched with as many illustrations from the 
qualities of gold, as if he had been candidate for the place of assay- 
master of the mim. The chapter ' On Identity ' is perhaps the b«t 
reasoned and the most full of thought and observation of any in the 
Essay : though the author sets out with an observation which seems 
to augur differently. For after explaining identity as it relates to 
iodi vidua! ity, or implies that a thing is the same with itself, he says, 
*From what has been said it is easy to discover what is so much 
inquired after, the princ^mim htSviJuattonis : and that, it is plain, is 
existence itself, which determines a being of any sort to a particular 
time and place, incommunicable to two beings of tjie same kind.' 
He then, very wisely quitting this principle which would certainly be 
of DO use to him, proceeds directly to account for the identity of 
different things from a continuance, not of the same subsunce, but 
of the same essence, or of the charaaeristic properties of any thing, 
carried on in succession ; as a river is the same while it flows 
through the same channel, or an oak while it retains the same 
organization, and a man while he retains the same life and continued 
consciousness. 

In the chapter entided * Of true and false Ideas,' the author 
supposes truth to depend on some mental or verbal proposition, and 
does not, like Hobbes and the modern metaphysical writers, make 
it consist entirely in a form of words. In the last chapter of the 



ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 



first volume he treats of the association of ideas. This chapter was 
added after the first edition of the work, and he confesses, that the 
subject vras something new to him. He has treated it in that mixed 
way of obscTTation and reasoning, in which the pecuHar force of his 
mind lay. The account he has given of it does not form a system, 
but the fragments of a system, something like the French memoirs 
that are to serve for the materials of a history. He dues not ap[>ear 
CO have laid down any general theorem on the subject, or to have 
been aware of the possibility of applying this principle to account 
in a plausible manner for the whole chain of our thoughts and 
feelingtif as Hobbes and Hartley have done. Sound, practical, 
good sense, and a kind of discursive observation, neither grovelling 
in vulgar common place, nor soaring into the regions of paradox, are 
in fact the general characteristics of his mind, which has not been 
understood by his admirers and commentators. A short passage 
will suffice to show his manoer of considering this doctrine of 
association. 

* Many children,' he says, 'imputing the pain they endured at 
school to their books they were corrected for, so join thoM.- ideas 
together tliat a book becomes their aversion, and they arc never 
reconciled to the study and use of them all their lives after : and 
thus reading becomes a torment to them, which otherwise possibly 
they might have made the great pleanure of their lives. There are 
rooms convenient enough that some men cannot study in, and fashions 
of vessels, which though ever so clean and commodious xhcy cannot 
drink out of, and that by reason of some accidentaj ideas which are 
annexed to them, and make them offensive : and who ia there that 
has not observed some man to flag at the appearance, or in the 
company of some ceruin person, not otherwise superior to him, but 
because having once on some occasion got the ascendant, the idea of 
authority and distance goes along with that of the person ? And he 
that has been thus subjected is not able to separate them. Instances 
of this kind are so plentiful every where, that if I add one more, 
it is only for the pleasant oddness of it : it is of a young gentleman, 
who having learned to dance, and that to great perfection, there 
hapjirnrd to stand an old trunk in the room where he learned : the 
idea of this remarkable piece of household stuff had so mixed itself 
with all the turns and steps of his daocen, that though in that chamber 
he could dance exceedingly well, yet it was only whilst that trunk 
was there ; nor could he perform well in any other place, unless that, 
or some such other trunk had iu due position in the room.' 

The following pasiage approaches the nearest to the statement of a 
general principle ; 

Il6 



H 



ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING 



' This Kcrong combination of ideas, cot allied by nature, the mind 
makes in itself cither volunurily or by chance : and hence it comes 
in difFcrcni men to be very diiferent, according to their diJfercDt 
inclioationsi educations, interests. Sec. Custom settles habits of 
thinking in the understanding, as well as of determining in the will, 
and of motions in the body : all which seems to be but trains of 
motion in the animal spirits, which once set agoing continue in the 
»ame steps they have been used to, which by often treading are worn 
into a smooth path, and the motion in it becomes easy, and as it 
were natural. As far as we can compreheiKl thinking, thus ideas 
seem to be produced in our minds ; or if they arc not, this may senre 
to explain their following one another in an habitual train when once 
they are put into that track, as well as it does to explain such 
motions of the body. A musician used to any tune will find, that 
let it but once begin in hi« head, the ideas of the several notes of it 
will follow one another orderly in his understanding, without any 
care or attention, as regularly as his finger moves orderly over the 
keys of the organ to play out the tune he has begun, though his 
inattentive thoughts be elsewhere a waodering. Whether the natural 
cause of these ideas, as well as of that regular dancing of the fingers, 
be the motion of his animal spirits, I will not determine, how probable 
■oever by this instance it appears to be so ; but this may help us 
a little to conceive of intellectual habits, and of the tying together 
of ideas. That there are such associations of them made by custom 
in the minds of most men, I think nobody will c]uestion, who has 
well considered himself or others ; and to this perhaps might be 
justly attributed most of the sympathies and antipathies observable 
in men, which work as strongly and produce as regular effects as 
if they were natural, and are therefore called so, though they at first 
had no other original but the accidental connexion of two ideas, 
which cither the strength of the first impression or future indulgence 
so united, that they always afterwards kept company together in that 
man's mind, as if they were but one idea. I say, most of the 
antipathies, I do not say all ; for some of them are truly natural, 
depend upon our original constitution, and are bom wiili us ; but a 
great part of those which arc counted natural, would have been 
known to be from unheeded though perhaps early impressions, or 
wanton fancies at first, which would have been acknowledged the 
original of them, if they had been warily observed.* 

The former part of this pasMgc, relating to the dancing of the 
animal spirits, the Abb£ Condillac in his ' Logic ' has paraphrased 
with a self-BufHciency, an assumption of originality, and a smoothness 
of flippancy, peculiar almost to himself. 

"7 




ON LOCKE'S ESSAY 

Go the subjea of materialism, Mr. Locke seems to have had two 
opioions; the first, that as far as wc can discem, the properties 
of mind and matter are utterly distiDct and irreconcileable ; the 
•ecood, that God might for aught we know be able to superadd to 
matter a faculty of thinking: either the one or the other of these 
opiotonB must be without mcaoing. In speaking of the difficulties 
attending both Eides of this question, he has, however, offered one 
of the best moral cautions against precipitancy of judgment and 
impatience of inquiry to be found in any author. He says, (vol. ii. 
p. 203 :) * He that considers how liardly sensation is in our thoughts 
reconcilable to extended matter, or existence to any thing that hath 
DO extcDsion at all, will confess that be is very far from certainly 
knowing what his soul is. It is a point which seems to me 
to be put out of the reach of our knowledge: and he who will 
give himself leave to cotuider freely, and look into the dark and 
intricate part of each hypothesis, will scarce 6nd his reason able to 
determine him fixedly for or against the soul's materiality. Since 
on which side soever he views it, either as an unextendcd substance, 
or a thinking extended matter, the difficulty to conceive cither, will, 
whilst either alone is in his thoughts, itill drive him to the contrary 
side. An unfair way which some men take with themselves ; who 
because of the unconceivableness of some thing they find in one, 
throw themselves violently into the contrary hypothesis, though 
altogether as unintelligible to an unbiassed understanding. Thit 
serves not only to show the weakness and scantiness of our knowledge, 
but the insignificant triumph of such sort of arguments, which drawn 
from our own views may satisfy us that we can find no certainty on 
one side of the question ; but do not at all thereby help us to truth* 
fay nmning into the opposite opinion, which on examination wilt be 
found clogged with equal diFiculties.' 

Mr. Locke has not, I think, himself enough attended to this 
admirable caution in his adoption of the common argument to demon- 
strate the existence of God a priori, towards which I conceive not 
the slightest advances can be made in this method. For ttie axiom 
that every thing must have a cause can never be made to infer the 
existence of a 6rst cause, that is, of something without a cause. 
It is equally impossible for the human mind to conceive of the 
beginning of existence, or to pass from nothing to something, either | 
by the help of an infinite scries of finite existences, or by the infinite J 
duration of one simple, absolute existence. Those who wish to see 
how far human ingenuity can push a complete confusion of ideas into 
the verge of the strictest logical demonstration and self-evident truth, 
may find all that they want in Dr. Clarke's celebrated work on the 
118 



ON TOOKF/S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 

* Attributes/ which contains more logical acutene^a asd more power 
of scholastic disputation than any other work that I know of in 
modem times. Hartley has lost himself in the same endless laby- 
rinth of 6nite and infinite series. And Locke's statement of this 
question is only better, because it is shorter, aod goes straight forward, 
without stopping to answer diHtculties. 



ON TOOKE'S 'DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY* 



I WOULD class the merits of Mr. Tooke's work under three heads : 
the etymological, the grammatical, and the philosophical. The 
etymological part is excellent, the grammatical part indifferent, and 
the philosophical part to the last degree despicable ; it is downright, 
unqualified, unredeemed nonsense. As Mr. Tooke himself says that 
all metaphysical reasoning is nonsense, tt is scarcely rude to say that 
htj metaphysical reasoning is so. It appears to me to be * mere mid- 
summer madness.' He ought not indeed to have meddled with logic 
or metaphysics after such a declaration ; he ought to have supposed 
that he laboured under some natural defect in this respect, as a man 
who Hnds no harmony in any tune that is played to him, may without 
much modesty conclude that he has no ear for music. 

The opinion which I have here advanced of this writer's merits as 
a general reasoner may seem a bold one ; but the proof of it is not 
difficult; it is as easy as transcribing. I have only to take a few 
putages in which he has applied etymology to the illustration of 
moral and metaphysical truth, to make his undistingulshing admirers 
blush, Dot for their idol, but for the weakness and bounded faculties 
of human nature. 

Mr. Tooke lays it down as a maxim, that the mind has neither 
complex nor abstract ideas. He was in some things a zealot, and his 
zeal had led him to believe that his system of etymology would in 
some way or other establish this metaphysical principle, and overturn 
the established notions of taw, morality, philosophy, and divinity. 
The full development and execution of this project is reserved for a 
kfiiture volume, but there are perpetual hints and intimatioiu of it in 
Fthe two first, something like the aerial music and llying noises in 
Frospero's island. The author seems constantly in his own mind on 
the point of detecting all imposture and delusion with the Ithuricl 
tpear of etymology, but he as constantly draws back, and postpones 
ms triumph. The second volume of the ' Diversions* consisu chietly 
of about two thousand instances of rbe etymology of words, to prove 

119 



ON TOOKES DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 



that tlicre caa be do abttnct ideas: scarody oae of wfaicb two 
tbooMiui meaniiigt U aaytfamg elae bus a more abtcraa idea tliaai tbe 
wofd WM to general roppcMed to ccmwey : far exanplct the word im^ 
cooiidobIt itaodi for a pretty ■ohttwriil, •oGd, linrit ^ r kind of as 
idea, Mn it sac loffpected of any latent, very rcwied, abst ra ct e d 
■Dcaasng. The andior dhowi, oo cite cootrxry, that tbe vord hm bo 
fuch palpable, pocitive mcamog, at tlic partScniar object to vbicb vc 
apply itf bat merely ngoiSet something, any thbg, raised or i^</ up. 
A siogolar roetbod, surely, of redaciog all general and afaattact s^pa 
to indindoal, phyiical objects ! Yet we find thii t if e so me catalogue 
of deriratiofu coocltuied in this manner. 

* And on this nibjca of tuhautHiion I will at preseot exercise your 
patience do farther : for my own be^s to flag. You hare now 
mstances of my doctrine in, I soppose, about a thouiaxid words. 
Their number may be easily tocreased. Bat I trust these are sufli- 
cieot to discard that imagined operation of the mind, which has been 
termed akstrtution : and to prore that what we call by that name, is 
merely one of the contrivances of language, for the purpose of more 
speedy communication.' — Page 596, vol. ii. 

How a thousand iniiances of words, signi^ng a common quality 
or abstract idea, with something understooa (tulawfsitim), can be 
supposed to discard that imagined operaiioo of the mind called 
abstraction! or in what subaudition differs from abitractioo, or whether 
there is not something iuhmtelleftum, as well as /uBaatStrnm^ — that is, 
certain circumstances left out by the mind for the ne ceawr y pco g re w 
of thought, as well as in language, for iu more ipeedy commoncation, 
— it is not easy to guess. This farcical mummery, this inexpticsble 
dumb show, tliis emphatical insignificance, neither admits nor deserres 
any answer. 

The only places in the work in which this wary reasoner has fnrhr 
committed himself, and given an intelligible explanation of hia mode 
of applying his system to general questions, arc in his accouot of she 
worasi rigJft and vftong^ juit and unjuii^ in his list of metaphysacal 
nonentities, demonstrated to be such because they are cxpTMaed \0f 
the pust participles of certain verbs, and in his defmiuoo of TVwIu 
7'hesc, therefore, I shall give as specimens, and 1 hope they will be 
quite satisfactory. The • Diversions of Purlcy,' it should be obcerrrd, 
is supposed to be carried on in a dialogue between the author and Sir 
Francis Burdett. 

• b!nough, enough,' says Burdett, * innumerable instances of the 
same may, I grant you, be given from all our ancient authors. But 
does this import us any thing?' 

* TooKK. Surely, much, if it shall lead us to the clear understand* 
lao 



ON TOOKE'S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 



ing of the words we use in discourse. For as far as we " know not 
our own meaning/' as far as " our purposes are not endowed with 
words to make them knoMm,'' so far we '* gabble like things most 
brutish.*' But the importance rises higher, when we reflect upon the 
application of words to metaphysics. And when I sny metaphysics^ 
you will be pleased to remember that all general reasoning, all politics, 
law, morality, and dirinity, are merely metaphysics.' [What is this 
general reasoning of Mr. Tooke's?] 

•Well/ replies his pupil, * you have satisfied me that wrong, how- 
ever written, whether wrang, wrong or wrung, like the Italian torto 
and the French lort^ is merely the past tense or participle of the rerb 
to wring ; and has merely that meaning. 

' TooKE. True; it means wrung or wrested from the right or 
ortierui line of conduct. Right is no other tb.in rectum, the past 
mniciple of the Latin verb regere. The Italian JrittOj and the 
French tiroit, are no other than the past jiarticiple dirtclum. In the 
same manner our English word jmt is the past participle of the verb 
juhere [Jujjuth), 

* BuRDETT. What, then, is law ? 

*TooK&. It is merely the pa^t participle fag, of the Gothic and 
Anglo-Saxon verb /rgan, poiure ; and it means aomething or anything 
laid Jtywrt as a rule of conduct. Thus when a man demands his right, 
he only asks that which it is ordered he shall have. A right conduct 
is that which is ordered. A right line is that which is ordered or 
directed, not a random extension, but the sliortest between two points. 
A right and jutt action is such a one as is ordered and commanded. 
The right hand is that which custom, and those who have brought 
us up, have ordered or directed us to use in preference, when one 
hand only is employed, and the left hand is that which is tteved 
Of left. 

< BuRDrrr. Surely the word right is sometimes used in some other 
sense. And see, in this newspaper before us, M. Portalia, contend- 
ing for the concordat, says : — " The multitude are much more 
impressed with what they arc commanded to obey, than with what is 
proved to them to be right and jutt." This will be complete doo- 
aense, if right and just mean ordered and commanded. 

* TooKE. I will not undertake to make sense of the arguments of 
M. Porulis. The whole of his speech is a piece of wretched mum- 
mery, employed to bring back again to France the more wretched 
mummery of pope and popery. Writers on such subjects arc not very 
anxious about the meaning of their words. Ambiguity and equivoca* 
lion are tbeir strongholds. Explanation would undo them. 

' BuuxTT. Well, but Mr. Locke uses the word in a manner hardly 

111 



ON TOOKE'S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEV 



to be reconciled with your account of it. He says : — ** God has a 
right to do it, we are his creatures." 

'TooKfi. It appears to me highly improper to say, that God has 
a righti ai it ii alBO to say that God is just. For nothing is ordered, 
directed, or commanded concerning God. The exprcsstoos arc inap- 
plicable to the Deity : though they arc common, and those who use 
ihem have the best intentions. They are applicable only to men, to 
whom alone language belongs, and of whose sensations only words are 
the represeoMtioni ; to men, who are by nature the subjects of orders 
and commands, and whose chief merit is ohediencc. 

* BuROF.TT. Every thing, then, that is ordered and commanded ii 
right and just. 

'TooKB. Surely; for that is only affirming that what is ordered 
and commanded is — ordered and commanded. 

' BuRDETT. These sentiments do not appear to have made you very 
conspicuous for obedience. There are not a few passages, I believe, 
in your life, where you have opposed what was ordered and com- 
manded. Upon your own principles, was that right ? 

•TooKE. Perfectly. 

■ BuRDETT. How now ! was it ordered and commanded that you 
flhould oppose what was ordered and commanded I Can the same 
thing be at the same time both right and wrong ? 

* TooKE. Travel back to the island of Melinda, and you will find 
the difficulty most easily solved. A thing may be at the same time 
both right and 'wrongs as well as right and left. It may be com- 
manded to be done, and commanded not to be done. The law, i,e. 
that which is laid down, may be different by different authorities. 

* I have always been most obedient when most taxed witli die- 
obedience. But my right hand is not the right hand of Melinda. 
The right I revere is not the right adored by sycophants, the jtu 
vagumf the capricious command of princes or ministers. I follow the 
law of God (which is laid down by him for the rule of my conduct) 
when I follow the laws of human nature: which, without any testi- 
mony, we know must proceed from God, and u]K>n these are founded 
the rights of man, or what is ordered for man.' 

On this passage I will obeerve that I think it would be difficult for 
Mr. Tooke himself to liod a more precious instance of unmeaning 
jargon in the writings of any school-divine. Mr. Tooke first pretends 
gravely to de6ne the essence of iatv and jutt from the etymology of 
those words, by saying that they are something lai^ dotitn and some- 
thing ordered \ and when pressed by the difficulty that there are 
many things laid down and many thiogs ordered which are neither 
' law ' nor * jost,* makes answer that their obligation depends on a 

122 



ON TOOKE'S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 



higher species of law and justice^ to wit, a law which is do where 
lai(j down, and a justice which is no where ordered, except indeed by 
the nature of things, on which the etymology of these two words does 
not seem to throw much light. At one time, it seemi quite demons- 
trable that the essence of all law, right, and justice consists Id its being 
ordered or communicated by words : the very idea is absurd, unless we 
cooceiTC of it as some thing cither spoken or written in a book ; and 
yet the very next moment this fastidious reasoner sets up the unwritten, 
uncommunicated law of God, which he says must conform to the 
laws of human nature, as the rule of his conduct, and as puramount 
to all other positive orders and commands whatever. What is thia 
original law of God or nature, which Mr. Tooke sets up as the rule 
of rights It it the good of the whole, or self-interest? Is it the 
voice of reason, or conscience, or the moral sense i Here then we 
have to set out afiresh in our pursuit, and to grope our way as well 
as we can through the old labyrinth of morality, divinity, and meta- 
physics. This new-invented patent-lamp of etymology goes out just 
as it is beginning to grow dark, and as the path becomes intricate. 

Neither can I at all see why our author should quarrel with 
M. Portalie for using these words in their common sense. He affirms 
that the whole of this gentleman's speech is a piece of wretched 
mummery, that his distinction between what is right and what is 
commanded is a senseless ambiguity, and that explanation would undo 
him. Yet he himself, two pages after, discovers that this distinction 
has a real meaning in it, and chat he has acted upon it all his life. 
* The one,' he says, ' is the jus vagunty the capricious command of 
princes ; the other is the law of God and nature. It is not impossible 
but M. Portalis might have given quite as profound an explanation of 
his own meaning. Junius's sarcasm did not, it seems, entirely cure 
Mr. Tooke 'of the little sneering sophistries of a collegian.' 

Mr. Tooke next makes strange havoc with a whole host of meta- 
physical agents; like Sir Richard Blackmore, 

* Hndocs creation at a jerk, 
And of redemption mnkes (lamn*d work.' 

' Rrbelling angels, the forbidden tree, 
Hravf n, hell, earth, chao$, all ' — 

are weighed in the balance and found wanting. We cannot say with 
MarrcU* that the argument 

* Holds us a while misdoubting his intent. 
That he would niin (for I saw him strong) 
7*he sacred truth<i to fable and old song. 
(So Sampson groiJed the temple's posts in spite) 
The world o'erwnelming to revenge hit sight.' 

1*3 



ON TOOKE S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 

For Mr. Tooke learei us in no doubt about his intent. All these 
sacred truths ore, according to him, to many falsehoods, which by 
taking possession of certain adjectiTes and participles, have palmed 
ihemsclres upon the world as realities, but which, by spelling their 
names backwards, he iiroposes to exorcise and reduce to their original 
nothingness again. Here followit a list of thenv which he has strung 
together, as a warning to all other pseudo-vubstantives. It is rather 
strange, by the bye, that the author should have resorted to this mode 
of argument, since he affirms that adjectives are the names of things, 
as well an substantives; and laughs at Dr. South for saying that they 
are the names of nothing. 

' These words, these participles and adjectives,' says Mr. Tooke, 
* not understood as such, have caused a metaphysical jargon and a 
false morality, which can only be dissipated by etymology. And 
when they come to be examined you will fmd that the ridicule which 
Dr. Conyers Middlcton has so justly bestowed upon the papists for 
their absurd coinage of saints, is equally applicable to ourselves and to 
all other metaphysicians ; whose moral deities, moral causes, and 
moral qualities are not less ridiculously coined and imposed upon 
their followers. 



Fate 


Substance 


Dnthiy 


Fiend 


Luck 


Angel 


Lot 


Apostle 


Chance 


Saint 


Accident 


Spirit 
True 


Heaven 


Hell 


False 


Providence 


Desert 


Prudence 


Merit 


Innocence 


Fault. &c. &c 



as well as Jujl, rights and fwrojig, are all merely participles poetically 
embodied and substantiated by tliose who use them. 

* So Church, for instance (Dominkum aliquiA) is an adjective; 
and fornierfy a most wicked one : whose misinterpretation caused 
more slaughter and pillage of mankind than all the other cheats 
together.' 

Sir Francis says, * Something of this sort I can easily perceive, 
but not 10 the extent you carry it. I see that those sham deities, 
Fate and Destiny, aliquid fatum^ quelque chose dest'mee^ are merely 
the past participles oi fan and dejtmer. That Chance ("high 
arbiter," as Milton calls him) and his twin-brother Accident are 

124 



ON TOOKE S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 

merely the participles of escheoir, ebanry and cadere. And that to say, 
it befell me by chance or by accident, is absurdly saying it befell me 
by falling. 

* 1 agree with you, that Providence, Prudence, Innocence, Sab- 
stance, and all the rest of that tribe of <]ualities (in eitcr and ance) are 
merely the neuter plurals of the present participles of orda-r, twcere^ 
jtarit Sec. Sec. That Angel, Saint, Spirit, are the past participle!! of 
ayycXkttv, sanciri, splrare. That the Italian cuio/o, a cuckoo, gives 
u$ the verb to cucol, and its past participle cuckold/ 

And what if it docs : will Mr. Tooke therefore pretend to say 
thar there is no such thing ? This is indeed turning etymology to a 
good account. It is clearing o^ old scores with a vengeance, and 
establishing morality on an entirely new basis. For my own part, 
I can only say of the whole of the reasoning of this author, with 
Voltaire's Candide, ■ /a tetc me tournr ; on nc sait oxi /'an tst.' Whether 
any or all of those metaphysical beings enumerated by Mr. Tooke do 
or do not exist, what their nature or qualities are, whether modes, 
relatives, substances, I shall not here undcruke to determine, but I 
do conceive that none of these questions can be resolved in any way 
by inquiring whether the names denoting them are not the past 
pardciples of certain verbs. A shorter method would I think be to 
say at once that alt metaphysical and moral terms, whether participles 
or not, are but names, that names are not things, and that therefore 
the things themselves have no existence. It is upon this philosophical 
principle that the hcroical Jonathan Wild proceeds in his definition of 
the word Honour, for after losing himself to no purpose in the 
common metaphysical jargon on the subject, and in moral causes and 
qualities, he comes at last to this clear and unembarrassed conclusion, 
— 'That honour consists in the word hoHour^ and nothing else.* 

I will only give one instance more of this reformed system of logic 
and metaphysics. 

* BuRDETT. I Still wish for an explanation of one word more : 
which on account of its extreme importance ought not to be omitted. 
What is Truth ? You know when Pilate had asked the same 
question, he went out and would not stay for an answer, aitd from 
that time to this no answer has been given. And from that time to 
this mankind have been wrangling and tearing each other to pieces 
for the truth, without once considering the meaning of the word.' 

* Tooke. This word will give us no trouble. Like the other 
words, true is also a past participle of the Saxon verb treimjan, con- 
fidere, to think, to believe firmly, to be thoroughly persuaded of, to 
trow, '/riw, as we now write it, or /r«iv, as it was formerly written, 
means simply and merely that which is trowed, and instead of its 

125 



ON TOOKE'S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 

being a rare commodity upon earth, excepc only in words, there it 
nothing but truth in the world. 

* That every man, in his communicaiioo with others, should speak 
that which he troweth, is of so great importance to mankind, that it 
ought not to surprise us, if we find the most extravagant and 
exaggerated praises bestowed upon truth. But truth supposes man- 
kind ; for whom and by whom alone the word is formed, and to 
whom only it is applicable. If no man, no truth. There is therefore 
DO such thing as eternal, immutable, everlasting truth ; unless 
mankind, such as they are at present, be also eternal, immutable, and 
everlasting. Two persons may contradict each other, and yet both 
speak truth. For the truth of one person may be opposite to the 
truth of another. To speak truth may be a vice as well as a virtue ; 
for there are many occasions when it ought not to be spoken. If you 
reject roy exjilanation, Bnd out if you can some other possible meaning 
of the word, or content yourself with Johnson, by saying that tnit 
is not false, and/alte is — not true. For n he explains the words.' 
— Vol. ii. p. 407. 

In a note the author adds, * Mr. Locke, in the second book of his 
Essay, chapter xxxii., treats of true and _/<;//i: ideas, and is much 
distressed throughout the whole chapter, because he had not in his 
mind any determinate meaning of the word true. If that excellent 
man had himself followed the advice which he gave to his disputing 
friends concerning the word Bquor ; if he had followed hts own rule, 
previously to writing about true and faite ideas, and had determined 
what meaning he applied to true, being, 'i^"?, real, right, wrong, he 
could not have written the above chapter, which exceedingly distresses 
the reader, who searches for a meaning where there is none to be 
found.' 

Whether Mr. Locke would have been satisfied with Mr. Tookc's 
account oi these words, I cannot say. I know that I am not. I do 
not think tt the true one. It is therefore not the true one. Mr. 
Tooke thinks it is, and therefore it is the true one. Which of us is 
right ? That what a man thinks, he thinks, and that if he speaks 
what he thinks, he speaks truth in one principal sense of the word, is 
what does not require much illustration ; but whether what he thinks 
is true or false, whether his opinion is right or wrong, or whether 
there is not another possible and actual meaning of the terms besides 
that given by Mr. Tooke, is the old difficulty, which remains just 
where it was before, in spite of etymology. 

The application of the theory of language to the philosophy of the 
mind, Mr. Tooke has reserved for a volume by itself: the principle, 
however, which he means to establish, he has very explicitly laid 
1x6 



ON TOOKE'S DIVEHSIONS OF PURLEY 



down in the bcginoicg of bis fir«t volume. * The buaiaeu of the 
miod/ he tays, 'as far as it coocerDs language, appears to me to be 
very simple. It extends no farther than to receive impreuioni, that 
isf to have sensations or feelings. What are called its operations, are 
merely the operatioDs of language. The greatest part of Mr. Locke's 
Etcay, that is* all which relates to what he calls the compoiUion^ ab- 
{traction^ complexity., getieralixation, reiat'totit Sec. of idea*, does indeed 
merely concern language. If he had been Koooer aware of the 
inaeparable connexion between words and knowledge, he would not 
have talked of the composition of ideas ; but would have seen that tlie 
only composiuoQ was in the terms ; and consequently that it was as 
improper to ulk of a complex idea as of a complex star. It ii an 
easy matter, upon Mr. Locke's own principles and a physical con- 
sideration of the senses and the mind, to prove the impossibility of the 
composition of ideas ; and that they are not ideas, but merely terms 
which are general and abstract.' — Vol. i. pp. 39, 51, &c. 

Now I grant that Mr. Locke's own principles, and a physical con- 
sideration of the mind, do lead to the conclusion here stated, that is, 
to an absurdity ; and it is from thence I have endeavoured to show 
more than once that those principles, and the considering the mind as 
a physical thing, are themselves absurd. How a term can be com- 
plex otherwise than from the complexity of its meaning, that is, of the 
idea attached to it, is difficult to understand. 

As to the other position, that we have no general ideas, but that it is 
the terms only that are general and absuact, Mr. Tooke has borrowed 
this piece of philosophy from Mr. Locke, who borrowed it from 
Hobbes. ' Universality ' says Mr. Locke, as quoted by our author, 
'belongs not to things, which are all of them particular in their exist- 
ence. When, therefore, we quit paniculars, the generals that rest are 
only creatures of our own ; their general nature being nothing but the 
capacity they are put into of signify'ing or representing many particu- 
lars.' I have, however, before shown how very loose, uncertain, and 
wavering, Mr. Locke's reasoning on this subject is, though I cannot 
^ee with Mr. Tooke that it is therefore * very S^erent from that in- 
comparable autbor'j ujuai nuthod of proceti&tgJ' There is one question 
which may be asked with respect to this sutement, which, if fairly 
answered, will perhaps, decide the point in dispute : vi'x. if there is 
no general nature in things, or if we have no general idea of what they 
have in common or the same, how is it that we know when to apply the 
same general terms to different particulars, which on this principle will 
have nothing left to connect them together in the mind ? r or example, 
take the words, a white hurst. Now say they* it is the terms which 
are general or common, but we have no general or abstract ideacorre»- 

117 



ON TOOKE'S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 

ponding to them. But if we had no general idea of tuhiie, nor any 
general idea of a hone, we should have nothing more to guide ub in 
applying this phrase to any but the first horse, than in applying the terms 
of an unknown tongue to their respective objects. For it is the idea of 
something general or common between the several objects, which can 
alone determine us in assigning the same name to things whichi con- 
sidered as particulars, or setting aside that general nature, are perfectly 
distinct and independent. Without this hnlc in the mind, this general 
perception of the qaitities of things, the terms a 'white horje could no 
more be applied, and would, in fact, be no more applicable to animals of 
this description generally, than to any other animal. In short, what 
is it that * puts the same common name into a capacity of signifying many 
particulars,* but that those particulars are, and are conceived to be of the 
same kind ? That is, general terms necessarily imply a class of things 
and ideas. Language without this would be reduced to a heap of proper 
names : and wc should be just as much at a loss to name any object 
generally, from its agreement with others, as to know whether wc 
should call the first man wc met in the street by the name of John or 
Thomas. The existence and use of general terms is alone a sufficient 
proof of the power of abstraction in the human mind ; nor is it 
possible to give even a plausible account of language without it. Bin 
Mr. Tookc has on all possible occasions sacriticcd common sense to a 
false philosophy and epigrammatic logic. In opposition to this author's 
assertion, that we have neither complex nor abstract ideas, I think it 
may be proved to a demonstration that we have no others. If our 
ideas were absolutely simple and individual, we could have no idea of 
any of those objects which in this erring, half-thinking philosophy are 
called individual, as a table or a chair, a blade of grass, or a grain of 
sand. For every one of these includes a certain configuration, hard- 
ness, colour. Sec. ue. ideas of different things, and received by differ- 
ent senses, which must be put together by the understanding before 
they can be referred to any particular thing, or form one idea. 
Without the cementing power of the mind, all our ideas woold be 
necessarily decomposed and crumbled down into their original elements 
and flexional parts. We could indeed never carry on a chain of 
reasoning on any subject, for the very links of which this chain must 
consist, would be ground to powder. No two of these atomic im- 
pressions could ever club together to form even a sensible point, much 
less should wc be able ever to arrive at any of the larger masses, or 
nominal descriptions of things. All nature, all objects, all parts of all 
objects would be equally 'without form and void.' The mindaloneis 
formative, XQ borrow the expression of a celebrated German writer, or 
it is that alone which by its pervading and elastic energy unfolds and 

128 



ON TOOKE'S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 



expands our ideas, that gives order and conaifltency to them, that 
assigns to every part its proper place, and tliat constructs the idea of 
the whole. Ideas are the offspring of the understanding, not of the 
seniles. In other words, it is the understanding alone that perceives 
relation, but everjr object is made up of a bundle of relations. In 
short, rhere is no object or idea which does not consist of a number 
of parts arranged in a certain manner, but of this arrangement the 
parts themselves cannot be conscious. A * physical considefation of 
the senses and the mind ' can never therefore account for our ideas, 
even of sensible objects. Mr, Locke's own principles do indeed ex- 
clude all power of understanding from the human mind. The manner 
in which Hobbea and Berkeley have explained the nature of mathe- 
matical demonstration upon this system shows its utter inadequacy to 
any of the purposes of general reasoning, and is a plain confession of 
the necessity of abstract ideas. Mr. Hume considers the principle 
that abstraction is not an operation of the mind, but of language, as one 
of the most capital discoveries of modern philosophy, and attributes it 
to Bishop Berkeley. Berkeley has however only adopted the argu* 
mentB and indeed aJmost the very words of Hobbea. The latter 
author in the passage which has been already quoted says, * By this 
im]iositton of names, some of larger, some of stncter signification, we 
turn the reckoning of the consequences of things imagined in the mind 
into a reckoning of the conset^uences of appellations. For example, 
a man that hath no use of speech at alt, such as is born and remains 
perfectly deaf and dumb, if he set before his eyes a triangle, and by ii 
two right angles, (such as are the comers of a square figure) he may 
by meditation compare and find that the three angles of that triangle 
are e<}ual to chose two right angles that stand by it. But if another 
triangle be shewn him different in shape from the former, he cannot 
know without a new labour, whether the three angles of that also be 
equal to the same. But he that hath the use of words, when he ob- 
serves that such equality was consequent not to the length of the sides, 
nor to any other particular thing in his triangle, but only to this, that 
the sides were straight and the angles three, and that that was all for 
which he named it a triangle, will boldly conclude universally, that 
such equality of angles is in all triangles whatsoever ; and register hii 
invention in these general terms : Every triangle hath its thrte angles 
njuai to ttvo right ones. And thus the consequence found in one par- 
ticular, comes to be registered and remembered as an universal rule ; 
and discharges our mental reckoning of time and place, and delivers 
us from all labour of the mind saving the iirst, and makes that 
which was found true here and now to be true in all timet and places,* — 
Leviathan^ p. I4, 

VOL. XI. : I 119 



^ 






est. 

tW«r fret viB CSMM «r M 

I JO 




ham tfae idea of i 
afl dMt is 
Thu 
jm M we 
• aark ««fa the 
■at b aaotker, I 
extremely 
TVheigbtof 
of tiK toKS 
of which it 
Far Ik « t^ aaj givco 
ind let that 
■ hahtr the actuil 
i« of a aMobcr of other 
I br ax fiBtCf utd each of 
aad thote ioche* will be 



ON TOOKE S DIVERSIONS OF PURLEY 



again made up of decimals, and chow decimals of other subordiDate 
and in6DiteBimal pans, which must be all distinctly perceived and 
added together before the sum total which they compose can be pre- 
tended to be a distinct, particular, or individual idea. In any given 
visible object we have always a gross, general idea of something 
extended, and never of the precise length ; for this precise length as 
it is thought to be is necessarily composed of a number of lengths too 
many, and too minute to be separately attended to or jointly conceived 
by the mind, and at last ioses itself in the infinite divisibility of matter. 
What sort of disiinctnesa or individuality can therefore be found in 
any visible image or object of sense, I cannot well conceive ; it seems 
to me like seeking for certainty in the dancing of insects in the 
evening sun, or for fixedness and rest in the motions of the sea. Alt 
particulars are nothing but generals, more or less defined according to 
circumstances, but never perfectly so. The knowledge of any finite 
being rests in generals, and if we think to exclude all generality from 
our ideas of things, as implying a want of perfect truth and clearness, 
we must be constrained to remain in utter ignorance. Let any one 
try the experiment of counting a 6ock of sheep driven fast by him, 
and he will soon find his imagination unable to keep pace with the 
rapid succession of objects ; and his idea of a particular number slide 
into the general notion of multitude : not that because there are more 
objects than he can possibly count he will think there are none, or 
that the word ^oci will present to his mind a mere name without any 
idea corresponding to it. Kvery act of the attention, every object 
wc sec or think of, offers a proof of the same kind. 

The application of this view of the subject to explain the difference 
between the synthetical and analytical Acuities, between generaliza- 
tion and abstraction in the proper acceptation of this last word, between 
common sense or feeling and understanding or reason, demands a 
separate essay. 

I do not think it possible ever to arrive at the truth upon these, or 
to prove the existence of general or abstract ideas, by beginning in 
Mr. Locke's method with j>articular ones. This faculty of abatrac- 
Uon or generalization (to use the words indifferently) is indeed by 
most considered as a sort of artificial refinement upon our other ideac, 
as an excrescence, no ways contained in the common impressiotu of 
things, nor scarcely necessary to the common purposes of life; and is 
by Mr- I.ocke altogether denied to be among tlie faculties of brutes. 
It is the ornament and top-addition of the mind of man which pro- 
ceeding from simple sensation upwards, is gradually sublimed into the 
abstract notions of things : ' so from the root springs lighter the green 
stalk, from thence the leaves more airy, last the bright consummate 

131 



ON SELF-LOVE 

flower/ Od the other hand, I imagine that all our notions from first 
to last are, strictly speaking, genera) and abstract, not absolute and 
particular, and that this faculty mixes itself more or less with every 
act of the mind, and in every moment of its existence. 

Lastly, I conceive that the mind has not been fairly dealt with in 
this and other Questions of the same kind. The difficulty belonging 
to the notion of abstraction or comprehension it is perhaps impossible 
ever to clear up : but that is no reason why we should discard those 
operations from the human mind any more than we should deny the 
existence of motion, extension, or curved lines in nature, because wc 
cannot explain them. Matter alone leems to have the privilege of 
presenting difficulties and contradictions at any time, which past 
current under the name o( factJ ; but the moment any thing of this 
kind is observed in the understanding, all the petulance of logicians is 
up in arms. The mind is made the mark on which they vent all the 
modes and figures of their impertinence ; and metaphysical truth has 
in this respect fared like the milk-white hind, the emblem of pure 
faith, in Dryden's fab!e, which 

* Has oft been chased 
With Scythian shafts and many winged wounds 
Aimed at her heart, was often forced to fly. 
And doomed to death, though fated not to die.* 



ON SELF-LOVE 

The modem system of philosophy has one great advantage, which 
makes it difficult to attack it with any hopes of success, namely, that 
it is not founded on any of the prevailing opinions or natural feelings 
of mankind. It rests upon a single principle — its boasted superiority 
over all prejudice. Unsupported by facts or reason, it is by this 
circumstance alone enabled to trample upon every dictate of the 
understanding or feeling of the heart, as weak and vulgar prejudices. 
In this alone it is secure and invulnerable. To this it owes its giant 
jiower and dreaded name. Let the contradictions and fallacies con- 
tained in the system be proved over and over again, still the answer 
is ready : — all the objections made to it arc resolved into prejudice. 
Destitute of every other support, it staggers our faith in received 
opinions by the hardihood of its assertions, and derives its claim to 
implicit credence by the boldness of its defiance of alt established 
authority. Common sense is brought to the bar like an old offender, 
and condemned without a hearing. Under the shelter of this pre- 
132 



ON SELF-LOVE 



nunptioo there is no absurdity so great as not to be advanced with 
impunity. There is no hypothesis, however gratuitous, however 
inadequate^ or however unfounded, that is not held up as the true 
one, if it is but contrary to all observation and experience. The 
grossest credulity succeeds to the moat extravagant scepticism. From 
being the slaves of authonty we become the dupes of paradox. 
Every opinion which is so absurd as never to have been affirmed 
before is converted into an undeniable truth. Whoever dares to 
question it, uruwed by the authority on the one hand, and undazzled 
by the novehy on the other, is considered as a person of a narrow 
and bigoted understanding, and as reHnquishing all claim to the 
exercise of his reason. We are etfeclually deterred from protesting 
against any of these 'wise saws and modern instances' by the dread 
of being mixed up with the vulgar, and we dare not avoid the 
common feelings or humanity lest we should be ridiculed as the dupes 
of self-love, or of the whining cant of moralists. There is however 
no bigotry so blind as that which is founded on a supposed exemption 
from all prejudice. The mind in this case identities every opinion of 
its own with reason itself: and regarding the objections made to it as 
proceeding from a jaundiced and distorted view of the case, it con- 
verts them into the strongest confirmations of the depth and compre- 
hensiveness of its own views. There are accordingly no people so 
little capable of reasoning as those who make the loudest pretensions 
to it : and having assumed the name of Philosophers, are astonished 
that any one should call their titJe in question. 

I have been led to make these observations from reading Helvetius's 
account of self-love, which is nothing but a aeries of misreprcscnta- 
ttons and assumptions of the question, and which can only have 
imposed upon his readers from that tone of confidence and alertness 
which men always have in attacking a received and long -established 
principle, and a ucit and involunury feeling that boldness of opinion 
implies strength and independence of mtnd. A few examples will 
show that this censure is well-founded. * What,* says this author in 
the beginning of his view of the question, — * what is the human 
uodervtanding ? It is the assemblage of his ideas. To what sort of 
understanding do we give the name of talent? To the understanding 
concentrated upon a single subject ; that is to say to a large assemblage 
of ideas of the same kind. 

' Now if there are no innate ideas, human understanding and genius 
are only acquired ; and both one and the other have the following 
faculties for their principles : 

I. Physical sensibility; without which we could receive no 
iMosations. 



ON SELF-LOVE 

* 1. Mitmaijt that ia to ssy, the faculty of recalling the seotationa 
trcriird. 

* 5, The iaterett which we have in comparing our sensations 
l«|[rthcr» that u to my, in obserring with attention the resemblances 
and ditEcreocet, the agrcemeota and disagreements of several objects 
Maoa y t them. It ia this interest which fixes the attention, and in 
■uods commonly well -organised, ia the efficient cause of under- 
■Uiniltng.* 

It u added in a note, * To judge, according to M. Rousseau, is not 
W *t*l. The proof of his opinion ia that we have a faculty or power 
which enables us to compare objects. Now this power according to 
him cannot be the etfect of physical sensibility. But,* continues 
MeUetius, * if Rousseau had more profoundly considered the question, 
h« would have perceived that this power (or faculty of understaiKling) 
ia no other than the interest itscll which we have to compare these 
objccU, and that this interest takes its rise in the feeling of self-love, 
which is the immediate effect of physical sensibility.' This is the 
author's account of the understanding. It is bold and decided, but it 
ia not on that account either more or less true. It comes to this; 
that the faculty or power of understanding is owing to the use we 
have for such a faculty ; or that we have a power of comparing our 
acnsationi, because we have an interest in comparing them, and that 
therefore this power ts nothing but the effect of physical sensibility. 
So that a man before he hat any understanding, feeling the want of it, 
supplies himself with this very necessary faculty by an act of the will, 
and out of pure friendly regard to himself. The interest or desire to 
fly mijtht at this rate supply us with a pair of wings, or an etfort of 
curiosity might furnish us with a new sense, or an effort of self-interest 
might enable a man to be to two places at once. All these con- 
sequences might ver)' easily follow, if we were only satisfied to believe 
any extravagance of assertion, and to use words systematically without 
cither connexion or meaning. 

The whole of this writer's argument against the existence of a 
benevolent principle in the mind is founded either on a play of words, 
or an arbitrary substitution of one feeling for another. He has 
confoutulnd, and does not even seem to have been aware of the 
distinction between, self-love, considered as a rational principle of 
action, or the voluntary and deliberate pursuit of our own good as 
such, and (hat immediate interest or gratification which the mind 
niay have in the pursuit of any object cither relating to ourselves or 
others. He sometimes evidendy considers the former of these, that 
is, a deliberating, calculating, conscious selfishness, as the only rational 
principle of action, and treats all other feelings as romance and folly, 

'3* 




ON SELF-LOVE 

or even denies their existence ; while at other times he contends that 
the most disinterested generosity, patriotism, and love of ^ime, arc 
equally and io the strictest sense self-love, because the pursuit of these 
objects is connected with and tends immediately and inienuotially 
to the gratiBcation of the individual who has an attachment to 
them. 

After stating the sentiment of Rousseau, that without an innate and 
abstract sense of right and wrong wc should not sec the just man and 
the true citiun consult the public good to his own prejudice, 
HeWetius goes on thus: — ' No one, I reply, hns ever been found to 
promote the public good when it injured his own interest. The 
patriot who risks his life to crown himself with glory, to gain the 
public esteem, and to deliver his country from slavery, yields to the 
(ecling which is most agreeable to him. Why should he not place 
his happiness in the exercise of virtue» in the acquisition of public 
respect, and in the pleasure consequent upon this respect .' For what 
reason, in a word, should he not expose his life for his country, when 
the sailor and soldier, the one at sea, and the other in the trenches, 
daily expose theirs for a shilling ? The virtuous man who seems to 
sacrifice his own good to that of the public is only governed by a 
sentiment of noble sclf-iotcrest. Why should M. Rousseau deny 
here that interest is the exclusive and universal motive of action, when 
he himself odmiu it in a thou&and places of hit work i * The author 
tiien quotes the following passage from Rousacau's * Hmilius ' in 
support of his doctrine : — ' A man may indeed pretend to prefer my 
bterest to his own : however plausibly he colours over this falsehood, 
I am quite sure it is one.' But I would ask why, on the principle 
just stated by HeWetius, he should not prefer ano^cr to himself, * if 
It is agreeable to him ? * Why should he not place his happiness in 
the exercise of friendship ? Why should he not risk his life for his 
friend, ai well as the patriot for his country, or as the soldier or 
sailor for a shilling a day I What is become, all of a sudden, of that 
noble self-interest which identifies us with our country and our kind ? 
Is it quite forgot ? Has it evaporated with a breath ? Is there 
nothing of it left ? When any instances are brought, or supposed, of 
the sacriiice of private interest to principle, or virtue, or passion, it is 
immediately pretended that these instances arc not at all inconsistent 
with the grand universal principle of self-interest, which embraces all 
the sentiments and affections of the human mind, even the most 
heroical and disinterested. But the moment these instances are out 
of sight and the evasion is no longer necessary, this expansive 
principle shrinks into its own natural littleness again ; and excludes 
all regard to the good of others as romantic and idle folly. All those 

"35 



ON SELF-LOVE 



ionaoces of virtae which arc at one momeat perfectly compatible with 
this 'uni^-crsal principle of action* are the next moment said to be 
incompatible with it, and the author after hi* little rhetorical glozings 
oo the extensive riews and geoerous sacri6ce« of aelf-interettj im- 
mediately de$cendi into the vulgar proverb that *the misfortuoec of 
others are but a dream.' To proceed : Heliretius says, (p. 1 4) : 

* What we understand by goodoesa or the moral sense in man, is 
his benevolence towards others : and this beoevolence we always iind 
in proportion to the utility they are of to him. I prefer my fellow- 
citizens to strangers, and my friend to my fellow-cirizeai. The 
welfare of my friend is reflected upon me. If he becomes more rich 
and more powerful, I paruke of his riches and his power. Beoerol- 
ence towards others is oothing, then, bot the effect of love to 
ourseWei.* 

The inference here stated, that benevolence is merely a reflection 
from self love, is founded 00 the assumption that we always feel for 
others in proportion to the advantage they are of to us, and this 
assumption is a false one. That the hid>itual or known connexion 
between our own weltare and that of others, is one great source of 
our attachment to them, one bond of society, is what I do not wish 
to deny : the (]uestion is whether it is the only one in the mind, or 
whether benevolence has not a natural basis of its own to rest upon, 
as well as self-love. Grant this, and the actual effects which we 
abierve in human life will follow from both principles combined : but 
to say that our attachment to others is in the exact ratio of our 
obligations to them, is contrary to all we know of human nsture. I 
would ask whether the atfection of a mother for her child is owing to 
the Kood received or bestowed ; to the child's power of conferring 
benefits, or its standing in need of assistance ? Are not the fatigues 
which the tnuthrr undergoes for the child, its helpless condition, its 
little vexations, its sutfering* from ill health or accidents, additional 
tics upon muiernBl trndernets, which bv increasing the attention to the 
wants of the child and anxiety to supply them, produce a proportion- 
able interest in an attachment to its welfare ? Helvetius justly 
observes that we prefer a friend to a stranger, but the reason which 
he assigns for it, that our interests and pleasures are more closely 
allied, is nor the only one. We participate in the successes of our 
(Virnds, it is true, hut we also participate in their distresses and dis- 
appoinintrntN. iiiid it is not always found that this lessens our regard 
for thrill. Uenrvolence, therefore, is not a mere physical re/lection 
from self-love. His account of friendship agrees exactly with that 
which the gTavr historian of Jonathan Wild has given o( the friendship 
between his hero and Count La Ruse : * Mutual interest, the greatest 

l|6 



ON SELF-LOVE 



I 



of all purposes, wai the cemeDt of thii alliance, which nothing of 
coD8e(}uence but superior interest was capable of dissoiviog,' 

The mechanical principle of aisociation, understood in a strict 
sense, will not account for the muldfarious and mixed nature of our 
affections, and if we do not understand it in a strict sense, ii will 
then only be another name for sympathy, imagination, or any thing 
else. 

* What then in truth,' proceeds this author, * is the natural good- 
ness, or moral sense, so much extolled by the English ? What 
distinct idea can we form of such a sense, or on what evidence found 
its existence ? If we allow a moral sense, why not allow an 
algebraical or chemical sense ? Nothing is more absurd than this 
theological philosophy of Shaftesbury, and yet most of the English 
are a« much delighted with it as ihe French formerly were with their 
music. It is not the same with other nations. No foreigner can 
ondersund the one or hear the other. It is a film on the eye of 
the English, which it is necessary to remove in order that they 
may sec. 

'According to their philosophy, a man in a state of indifference 
sitting in his elbow chair, desires the good of others : but in as far 
as he is indifferent, man desires and can desire nothing. A state of 
desire and indifference is incompatible. These philosophers repeat in 
vain that the moral sense is implanted in roan, and makes him at a 
certain time disponed to com pass ioriate the sufferings of his fellows. 
This system is in faa nothing more than the system of innate ideas 
overturned by Locke. For my pan, I can form an idea of my five 
senses, and of the organs which constitute them : but 1 confess that 
1 have no more idea of a moral sense than of a moral elephant and 
castle. The enthusiasts for " moral beauty " are ignorant of the 
contempt in which these nations arc held by all those who, cither in 
the character of statesmen, officers of police, or men of the world, 
have an opportunity of knowing what human nature is.* — Page 15. 

In reply to the dogmatical c^uestion with which this passage begins 
— * What distinct idea can be given of ihe moral sense?' — I answer 
for myself, the folloMring very explicit one: namely, that it is the 
natural preference of good to evil, arising from the conception or idea 
formed of them in the understanding. Those who assert a moral 
sense, affirm that there is a faculty of some sort or other inseparable 
from the nature of a rational and intelligent being, that enables us to 
form a conception of good and evil, or of the feelings of pleasure and 
pain generally speaking, which ideas bo formed have a natural tendency 
to excite certain affectioas and actions. 

Thoae, on the other hand, who deny a moral sense, or any thing 

<37 




ON SELF-LOVE 



1 10 «, — K mum Mho- tmt we c— fag» wq ifca w hju. > u 
die ietiBgiaf otfam* or «f fMd aid cwd j,i m i ilj ipakii^w 
ik« ikfar ideal have fio pOHUe iaiMMoe owv ife aiadaexoefK 6q«i 
dvir iiMai ■iiiii vitk fbfbcal iaffCMioM» nenory, balik, HlT-iBBercK, 
or wamemhermotttct^iitit Stoma from Alt idea* thrBadvet. S« 
I hwc Andy thown AaK wI ia iit iheci Mumtinii <rf nrioaal aodio, 
cfacTC I lid J be Bothtr hahk, not nlf JMiiiw, aar loliiJiy ictioo of 
■■y kiad. The BMnl ii tkodotc Hthiag btt de ippficsioa cf ike 
to ife fecfiagi or idcM of good. TW nwifion, 
ijTt wfacdKr tbere b « oaonl aeaic u rndfiWr to tkM; 
■hlliiii tW Biad CM ■iliKMiri or ooooem^ or be diccscd by an; 
tUag bcfoad ■■ oaa pfafncU or aednaical fcefiagiL If it cm, tbea 
there n l oiDfth iag ta ana fif dd f e km five iihki aad the orgaa* 
whicli eooipoee Aoo, ibr theae caa five fain ao thnag>ir, coaccyrioo, 
or rjayihi vkh my tlnag f wyoa ri hiM a rlf , or cvea vitli htnueir 
liijrMil die orcacK mnft Tbe actioaH nd cvott* aad fedmgi 
or IniBBa Blc, the piiwoai aad poraaiti of nca, coold ao aiore go oo 
vtlfaoat the iutcif creooe of tlic udencudiag thia vahoB aa ohgiiul 
ftmdfie of physical tciaifailhy. Ndihcr the oar oor tim other 
expUuu the whole ccooomy of oor laonl aatare, hot ilut h oo reaaoo 
why both are doc eaaeotaal aad ioiepaat patta of it. The five tense* 
and the orgyu which compoae dicm wUl aot arroaai ior the ftcicnce 
of rooraiity. Let it be a* imperfect a* it may, aay aiore than for the 
idcBce oi algebra or chemiatry in the difciai degreea io which they 
are |inaa'Mi i1 by ditferenc men. The poiat it not vhcther reaaoo is 
fumtifaing tn with a perfect and iafalJibie mlc of action, absolute orer 
an^ other motive or passion, but adiethcr it is any rule at all, whether 
k haa any possible inSueoce over our moral feelings. According to 
HelvetiBt, the moral sense is either a word without meaning, or it 
must signify one of oor five aeoses : that is, impressioos not actually 
affecting one or othrr of these are to him absolutely nothing. It is 
strange that after this he shoold propose to taJie the film from the eyes 
of thoac who ridiculously fancy that they hare other ideas. It is as 
if a blind man should undertake to undeceiTc those who can sec, with 
respect to certain chemical notions, called objects of sight. In con- 
lirmation of his theory, he refers the romantic admirers of moral 
beauty to the opinion of certain clasaet and professions of men, whose 
visual ray has t^en purged, and whO) it should seem, possess a sort of 
second sight into human nature, namely, ministers of state, officers of 
police, and men of business. Either this argument is a satire on these 
characters, or on the understanding of his readers. If these respect- 
able, and, I dare say, very well-meaning pervoos, are by the narrowness 
of their occupations and views, precluded from any general knowledge 
13b 



ON SELF-LOVE 



I 
I 



of human natare, or the rirtuei of the human heart, it is an uncivil 
irony to propose them as consummate judge* of the abstract nature of 
man. If, on the other hand, in Epite of iheir employment, they 
retain the same notions and liberality of feeling as other men, there is 
no reason to suppose that they woxild subscribe to the sentiment of our 
author, that morality * is an affair of the five senses : ' a proposition 
which any minister of state, or police officer, or man of the world, 
possessed of the least common sense, would treat with as much con- 
tempt and incredulity as Shaftesbury or Huicheson. Our author's 
observation, that the notion of a moral sense or natural disposition to 
aympathifte with others, is only the doctrine of innate ideas in disguiae, 
is another misconception of the nature of the question. The actual 
feeling of compassion is not, as he says, innate ; but this no more 
proves that the dis]K>sitton to comj>asston or benevolence ii not innate, 
than the fact that the ideas or feelings of pleasure and pain are not 
innate and born with us, proves that physical sensibility is not an 
original faculty of the mind. Moral sensibility, or the capacity of 
being affected by the ideas of certain objects, is as much a part of 
our nature as physical setisibility, or the capacity of being affected 
in a certain manner by the objects themselves. Helvetiua says, 

fhysical sensibility is the only quality essential to the nature of man : 
answer, that physical sensibility is not the only quality essential to 
the nature of man. To show how senseless and insignificant is this 
kind of reasoning, I will refer back to Helvetius's concise profession 
of his metaphysical faith, which is that he can form an idea of the 
five senses and of the organs of them, but of nothing else. Now, 
I may ask, how he comes by this idea ? Which of his senses or which 
of the organs of them is it that gives him an idea of the other four ? 
Has the eye an action of words, or the ear of colours, or either of 
the impressions of taste, smell, or feeling ? Which of them is the 
common sense I or if none, must we not suppose some superintending 
faculty to which all the other impressions are subject, and which alone 
can give him an idea of his own senses or their organs i Another 
insunce of the utter want of logical and consecutive reasoning which 
characterizes the French philosophers, might be given in their singular 
proof of the selfishness of the human mind from the incompatibility of 
a Btate of desire and a slate of indifference. The English philosophers 
are charged with representing a man in a state of indifference, * seated 
in his arm-chair,' as desiring the good of others. This arm<hair it 
it should seem, no less than hts state of indifference, presents certain 
insurmountable barriers to his desires, which they cannot pass so as to 
aifeet him with the slightest concern for any thing beyoitd it. So far 
as a man is indifferent to every thing, he cannot it is true desire any 

»39 



ON SELF-LOVE 



thing. All that follows from this is, that lo far ai he desires the 
good of others he is not in a state of iadiffercoce. 

That a man cannot desire an object and not desire it at the same 
time requires no proof. But what ought to have been proved, and 
what was meant to be so, is that a man in a itate of indifference to 
the welfare of others on his own account, cannot desire it for their 
sake, and this is what is not proved by the truism mentioned. The 
general maxim, that I cannot desire any object as long as I am 
indifferent to it, cannot be made to show that self-interest is the only 
motive that can make me pass from the one state into the other. By 
indifference, as used by the writers here ridiculed, in a popular sense, 
is evidently meant the want of personal or physical interest in any 
object, and to say that this necessarily implies the want of every other 
kind of interest in it, of all rational desire of the good of others, is a 
meagre assumption of the point in dispute. It is strange that these 
pretenders to philosophy choose to insult the English writers for 
daring to wear the plain, homely, useful, national garb of philosophy, 
while their most glossy and most fashionable suits are made up of the 
shreds and patches stolen from our countryman Hobbes, disguised 
with a few spangles, tinselled lace, and tagged points of their own. 

Helvetiu.1 s paraphrase of Hobbet's maxim, that *pity is only 
another name for self-love,* is as follows: 

* What then do I leel in the presence of an object of compassion ? 
A strong emotion. What causes this emotion ? The recollection of 
the sufferings to which man is subject, and to which 1 am myself 
liable. It is this consideration that disturbs, that torments me, and 
so long as the unfortunate sufferer continues in my presence I am 
affected with melancholy sensations. Have I relieved him, — do I no 
longer see him i A calm is insensibly restored to my breast, because 
in proportion to the distance to which he is removed, the remembrance 
of the evils which his sight recalled is gradually effaced. When 
1 was concerned for him, then, 1 was concerned only for myself. 
What are, in fact, the Bufferings which I compassionate the most i 
They are those not only which I have felt myself, but those which I 
may still feel. Those evils the more present to my memory impress 
mc more strongly. My sympathy with the sufferings of another is 
always in exact proportion to my fear of being exposed to the same 
sufferings myself. 1 would willingly, if it were possible, destroy the 
very germ of my own sufferings in him, and thus be released from 
the apprehension of the like evils to myself in time to come. The 
love ot^ others is never any thing more in the human mind than the 
effect of love to ourselves, and conftcqueody of our physical scosibility/ 
— Vol. ii. page lO. 

140 



ON SELF-LOVE 



To this 1 answer as t'oUowi : — What do I feel in the presence of 
on object of compa&tion i A strong emotion. What causes this 
emotion ? Not, oertainlvi the general recollection of the sufferings to 
which man in general is subject, or to which I myself may be exposed. 
It is not this remote and accidental reflection, which has do particular 
reference to the object before me, but a strong sense of the sufferings 
of the particular person, excited by his immediate presence, which 
affects roe with compassion, and impels me to his relief. The relief 
I afford him, or the absence of the object, lessens my uneasiness, 
either by the contemplation of the diminution of his sufferings, to 
which I hare contributed, or by diverting my mind from the con- 
sideration of his luffcriogi. Neither the relief atfordcd, nor the 
absence of the object could produce this effect, if the strong emotion 
which I experience did not relate to the particular object. Ii ii the 
fate of the individual, and of him only, which I am contemplating, 
and my sympathy accordingly rises and falls with it, or as my attention 
is more or less fixed upon it. A total alteration tn the lituation of the 
individual produces a total change in my feelings with respect to him, 
which could not be the case, if my compassion depended wholly on my 
sense of my own security, or the general condition of human nature. 
Id feeling compassion for another, therefore, it was not for myielf that 
I was concerned, but for the sufferer : my feelings were, in a manner, 
bound up with his, and I forgot for the moment both myself and 
others. But do I not compassionate most those evils which I have 
felt myself? Yes; hecau&e from my own knowledge of them I have 
a more lircly sense of what otherii must suffer from them : just in the 
same manner I dread those evils moat with respect to myself in time 
to come. For those evils which I have not experienced, I leel, for 
that reason, leas synipathy in respect to others, and less dread with 
reference to myself in time to come. Neither do I always feel for 
others in proportion as I dread the same feelings myself. The 
memory of my past sufferings cannot excite my disposition to relieve 
those of others, and the imaginary apprehension of my own futurt 
sufferings can only tend to produce voltmtiry action on the same 
principle as my imagination of those or others. I do not wish to 
prevent their sufferings as the germ or cau&e of mine, but t^ecause they 
are of the same nature as mine. Benevolence, therefore, is not the 
effect of self love, though it is the effect of our physical sensibility, 
combined with our other faculties. I will in this place insert the 
reply of Bishop Butler (a true philosopher] to the same argument in 
Hobbes, in a note to one of his sermons. 

* If any person can in earnest doubt whether there be such a thing 
as good-wilJ in one man towards another (for the question is not con- 

«4» 



m 



± 



ON SELF-LOVE 



cerning cither the degree or exteoBiveoesB of it, but concerning the 
affection itself,} let it be observed, that whether man be thut or other- 
luite comUtuUa, what u the m^uard frame in this particular in a mere 
question of &ct or natural history, not proreable immediately by 
reason. It is therefore to be judged of and determined in the same 
way other facts or hiRtorical matters are ; by appealing to the external 
•eoses, or inward perceptions, respectively, as the matter under con- 
sideration is cognizable by one or the other; by arguing from 
acknowledged factti and actions, inquiring whether these do not 
suppose and prove the matter in question so far as tt is capable ot 
proof. And, lastly, by the testimony of mankind. Now that there 
is some degree of benevolence amongst men, may be as strongly and 
plainly jtroved in all these ways, as it could possibly be proved, 
supposing there wa<i this affection in our nature. And should any 
one think fit to assert, that resentment in the mind of man was absol- 
utely nothing but reasonable concern for our own safety, the falsity of 
thiH, arKl what is the real nature of that {ussion, could be shown in no 
other ways than those in which it may be shown, that there is such a 
thing in some degree as real good-will in man towards man. 

* There being manifestly this appearaoce of men's substituting others 
for themselves, and being carried out and affected towards them as 
towards themselves ; some persons, who have a system which excludes 
every affection of this sort, have taken a pleasant method to solve it ; 
and tell you it is not another you are at all concerned about, but your 
self only ^ when you feel the Section called compassion ; i.e. there is 
a plain matter of fact, which men cannot reconcile with the general 
account they think fit to give of things; they therefore, instead of 
that manifest fact, substitute another^ which is reconcilable to their 
own scheme. For does not every body by compassion mean an 
affection the object of which is another in distress I Instead of thii, 
but designing to have it mistaken for this, they speak of an affection 
or passion, the object of which is ourselves, or danger to ourselves. 
Suppose a person to be in real danger, and by some means or other to 
have forgot it ; any trifling accident, any sound might alarm him, 
recall the danger to his remembrance, and renew hia fears : but it is 
almost too grossly ridiculous [though it is to show an absurdity) to 
speak of that sound or accident as an object of compassion ; and yet, 
according to Mr. Hobbcs, our greatest friend in distress is no moreto 
us, no more the object of compassion or of any affection in our heart. 
Neither the one nor the other raises anv emotion in our mind, but only 
the thoughts of our liablencss to calamity, and the fear of it : and both 
equally do this. 

'There arc often three distinct perceptions or inward feelings upon 

142 



ON SELF-LOVE 



tight of persons in distresB : real lorrow and concern for the misery 
of our fcllow-crentureR; some degree of Ratiifaction from a cootcioui- 
nes9 of our freedom from that misery ; and, as the mind posseft on 
from one thing to another, it is not unnatural from such an occasion to 
reject upon our own tiableness to the same or other calamities. The 
two last frequently accompany the first, but it is the first oniy which is 
properly compassion, of which the disireited are the object, and which 
directly carries us with calmness and thought to their assistance. Any 
one or these, from various and complicated reasons, may in par- 
ticular cases prevail over the other two ; and there arc, I suppose, 
inatancet where the bare sight of distress, without our feeling any 
compassion for it, may be the occasion of either or both of the two 
latter.* 

I shall proceed to examine the objecttoa to the doctrine of bene- 
volence, on the supposition that our sympathy when it exists is really a 
pan of our interest. This objection was long ago Btated by Hobbes, 
Rochrfoucault, and Mandeville, and has been adopted and glossed 
over by Hclvetius. It is pretended, then, that in wishing to relieve 
the distresses of others we only desire to remove the uneasiness which 
pity creates in our mind ; that all our actions are unavoidably selfish, 
as they all arise from the feeling of pleasure or |>ain existing in the 
mind of the individual, and that whether we intend our own good or 
that of others, the immediate gratification connected with the idea of 
any object is the sole motive which determines us to the pursuit of it. 

First, this objection does not at all affect the main question in 
dispute. For If it is allowed that the idea of the pleasures or pains 
of others excites an immediate interest in the mind, if we feel sorrow 
and anxiety for their imaginary diBiresses exactly in the same way 
that we do for our own, and are impelled to action by the same prin- 
ciple, whether the action has for its object our own good, or that of 
Others; in a word, if we sympathise with others as we do with our- 
selves, the nature of man as a voluntary agent must be the same, 
whether we choose to call this principle self-love, or benevolence, or 
whatever relinements we may introduce into our manner of explaining 
it. The relation of man to himself and others as a moral agent is 
plainly determined, whether a rational pursuit of his own future wel- 
fare and that of others is the real or only the ostensible motive of his 
actions. Were it not that our feelings arc so strongly attached to 
names, the rest would be a question more of speculatire curiosity than 
practice. All that, commonly speaking, is meant by the most dis- 
interested benevolence is this immediate sympathy with the feelings 
of others, as by self-love is meant the same kind of attachment to our 
own future interests. For if by sctf-loTe we understand any thing 

»43 



ON SELF-LOVE 

beyond the impulse of the present moment, any thing dilferent from 
inclination, let the object be what it will, this can no more be a 
mechaaical thing than the most refined and comprehensive benevolence. 
Self-love, used in the sense which the above objection implies, must 
therefore mean some thing very differeot from an exclusive principle 
of deliberate, calculating KelRshnesii, rendering us indifferent to every 
thing but our own advantage, or from the love of physical pleasure or 
aversion to physical pain, which could produce no interest in any but 
sensible impressions. In a word, it expresses merely any incUoatioD 
of the mind be it to what it will, and does not at all determine or 
limit the object of pursuit. Supposing, therefore, that our most 
generous feelings and actions were so far equivocal, the object only 
bearing a show of disinterestedness, the secret motive being always 
selfish, this would be no reason for rejecting the common use of the 
term duinterested iftnevolence, which expresses nothing more than an 
immediate reference of our actions to the good of others, bh self-love 
expresses a conscious reference of them to our own good as means to 
an end. This is the proper meaning of the terms. If we denominate 
our actions not from the object in view, but from the inclination of 
the individual, there will be an end ac once, both of ' selfishness ' and 
•benevolence.* 

But farther, I deny that there is any foundation for the objection 
itself, or any reason for resolving the feelings of compassion or our 
voluntary motives in general into a principle of mechanical self-love. 
That the motive to action exists in the mind of the person who acts, 
is what no one can deny, or I suppose ever meant to deny. The 
passion excited and the impression producing it must necessarily affect 
the individual. There must always be some one to feel and act, or 
there could evidently be no such thing as feeling or action. If there- 
fore it had ever been implied as a condition in the love of others, that 
this love should not be felt by the person who loves them, this would 
be to say that he must love them and not love them at the same time, 
which is too palpable an absurdity to be thought of for a moment. It 
could never, I say, be imagined that in order to feel for others, we 
must in reality feel nothing, or that benevolence, to exist at all, must 
exist no where. This kind of reasoning is therefore ihc most arrant 
trifling. To call my motives or feelings selfish, because they are felt 
by myself, is an abuse of all laof^uage : it might just as well be said 
that my idea of the monument is a selfish idea, or an idea of myself, 
because it is I who perceive it. By a sclBsh feeling must be meant, 
therefore, a feeling, not which belongs to myself (for that all feelings 
do, as is understood by every one) but which relates to myself, and 
in this sense benevolence is not a selfish feeling. It ts the individual 
»44 



ON SELF-LOVE 



who feels both for himself and othert ; but by self-lore is meant that 
he feels only for himself; for it it presumed that the word self has 
some meaning in it, and it would hare absolutely none at all, if nothing 
more were intended by it than any object or impression existing in 
the mind. It therefore becomes necessary to set limits to the meaning 
of the terms. If we except the burlesque interpretation of the word 
just noticed, sclMore can mean only one of these three things, i . The 
conscious pursuit of our own good as such ; 2. The lore of physical 
pleasure and aversion to physical pain; 3. The gratification derived 
from our sympathy with others. If all our .ictions do not proceed 
from one of these three principles, they are all resolvable into self- 
lore. 

First, then, self-love may properly signify, as already explained, 
the love or affection excited by the idea of our own interest, and the 
conscious pursuit of it as u general, remote, ideal object. In this 
sense, that is, considered with respect to the proposed end of our 
actions ^ have shown sufficiently that there is no exclusive principle 
of self-love in the human mind which constantly impels us, as a set 
purpose, to pursue our own advantage and nothing but that. 

Secondly, any being would be strictly a selfish agent, all whose 
impulses were excited by mere physical pleasure or pain, and who had 
no sense or iniagination, or anxiety about any thing but its own bodily 
feelings. Such a being could have no idea beyond its actual, 
momentary existence, and would be equally incapable of rationid 
self-love or benevolence. But it is allowed on all hands that the 
wants and desires of the human mind are not confined within the 
limits of his bodily sensations. 

Thirdly, it is said that though man is not merely a physical agent, 
but is naturally capable of being infiucnccd by imagination and sym- 
pathy, yet that this docs not prove him to be possessed of any degree 
of disinterestedness or real good-will to others; since he pursues the 
good of others only from its contributing to his own gratification; 
that is, not for their sakcs, but for his own, which is still selfishness. 
That is, the indulgence of certain affections necessarily tends, without 
our thinking of it, to our own immediate gratification, and the impulse 
to prolong a state of pleasurable feeling and put a stop to whatever 
gives the mind the least uneasiness, is the real spring and over-ruling 
pri&ciple of our actions. If our benevolence and sympathy with 
others arose out of and was entirely regulated by this principle of 
self-gratification, then these might indeed be with justice regarded as 
the ostensible accidental motives of our actions, as the form or vehicle 
which served only to transmit the efficacy of any other hidden prin- 
ciple, as the mask and cover of selfishness. But the supposition itself 

VOL. XI. : K 145 




ON SELF. LOVE 



ii the tb»ttlde«t th«t cao well be conceired. Self love and sympathy 
are iacoowteot. The ituuot we no longer suppose mao to be a 
phnic&I agent, and allow him to have ideas of things out of himself 
mod td be iotluenced by Uiem, that is, to be endued with sympathy at 
allt be must neccsuriiy cease to be a merely selfish agent. The 
iaftaat be i* suppoicd to conceive and to be anected by the ideas of] 
other ihinga. he cannot be wholly governed by what relates to himself. 
The terms *sclli&h' and 'natural agent 'are a contradiction. For 
the one expression implies that the mind is actuated solely by the 
impulse of self-love, and the other that it is in the power and under 
the control of other motives, [f our sympathy with others does not 
alwayk originate in the pleasure with which it is accompanied to 
ourselves, or does not cease the moment it becomes troublesome to us, 
then man is not entirely and necessarily the creature of self-love. He 
is under another law and another necessity, and in spite of himself it | 
forced out of the direct line of his own interest, both future and ' 
uresent, by other principles inseparable from his nature as an intelligent 
being. Our sympathy therefore ts not the servile, ready tool of our 
self-love, but this latter principle is itself subservient to and over-ruled : 
by the former ; that is, an atuchment to others is a real independent j 
principle of human action. What I wish to state is this : that the j 
mind neither confttantly aims at nor tends to its own individual 
interest. That in benevolence, compassion, friendship, &c. the mind 
doc* aim at its good, is what every one must acknowledge. The only 
sense tlicn in which our sympathy with others can be construed into 
lelf-love, must be that the mind is so constituted that without fore- 
thought or :my reHcction in itself, or when seeming most occupied 
with others, it is still governed by the same uciversat feeling of which 
it is wholly unconscious ; and that we indulge in compassion, Sec. only 
because and in as far as it coincides with our own immediate gratifi- 
cation. I f it could be shown that the current of our desires always 
runs the same way, either with or without knowledge, I should con- 
fess that this would be a strong presumption of what has been called 
the falsity of human virtue. But it is not true that such is the 
natural disposition of the mind. It is not so constructed as to receive 
no impresstons but those which gratify its desire of happiness, or to 
throw off every the least uneasiness relating to others, like oil from 
water* It is not true that the feelings of others have no natural hold 
upon thr mind but by their connexion with self-interest. Nothing 
can be more evident than that we do not on any occasion blindly 
consult the interest of the moment; there is no instinctive unerring 
bias to our own good, which in the midst of contrary motives and 
dovblfttl tppeanncesi puts aside all other impulses and guides them 



ON SELF-LOVE 



but lo its own purposes. It is against all experience to say that in 
giving way to the feelings of sympathy, any more than to those of 
rational self-interest (for the argument ia the same in both cases), 
I always yield to that impulse which is accompanied with most 
pleasure at the time. It is true that I yield to the strongest impulse, 
but not that my stron;^est impulse h to pleasure. The idea, for 
instance, of the relief I may afford to a person in extreme distress, is 
not necessarily accompanied by a correspondent degree of pleasurable 
sensation to counterbalance the paintul sensatton his immediate distreM 
occasions in my mind. It is certain that sometimes the one and 
sometimes the other may prevail without altering my purpose in the 
least. I am led to persevere in it by the idea of what are the 
sufferings, and that it is in my power to alleviate them : though that 
idea \$ not always the most agreeable contemplation 1 could have. 
Those who voluntarily perform the most painful duties of friendship 
or humanity do not do them from the immediate gratification arising 
therefrom ; it is as easy to turn away from a beggar as to relieve 
him ; and if the mind were not actuated by a sense of truth, and of 
the real consequences of its actions, we should uniformly listen to the 
distresses of others with the same sort of feeling as we go to sec 
a tragedy, only because we calculate that the pleasure is greater tban 
the pain. But I appeal to every one whether tliis is a true account of 
human nature. Tltere is indeed a false and bastard kind of feeling 
commonly called sensibility, which is governed altogetlicr by this 
reaction of pity on our own minds, and which instead o( disproving 
only serves more strongly to distinguish the true. Upon tlie theory 
here stated the mind is supposed to be imperceptibly attached to or to 
fly from every idea or impression simply as it affects it with pleasure 
or pain: all other impulses are carried into effect or remain powerless 
according aa they touch this great spring of human affection, which 
determines every other movement and operation of the mind. Why 
then do we not reject at first every tendency to what may give us 
Why do we sympathise with the distresses of others at all i 

* The jealous God at wght of human ties, 
Spreads his light wings and in a moment flies.* 

Why does not our self-love in like manner, if it Is so perfectly 
indi^erent and unconcerned a principle as it is represented, immediately 
disentangle itself from every feeling or idea which it 6nds becoming 
painful to it ? It should seem we are first impelled by self-love to feel 
uneasiness at another's sufferings, in order that the same principle of 
tender concern for ourselves may afterwards impel us to get rid of 
that uneasiness by endeavouring to remove the suffering which is the 

<47 



1 



fme of k. lii <leiinBg co reBne the ditef>eM of uocbcr, it it 
fUl—tiiil diA oar oalj viih n to rcoioTe the uocaiiocts it occaaoos 
»: do we alto fed tkis ii rifi ii nr w io the firtt ioitxDce for tbc 
■HBf RMOi^ or from regard to ouraclfct ! It is absurd to uy 
tk« is oaa^aMMoating ocben I aai ooJy occupied with my ovs 
pain or mtamaen, «ace tfaia rery aneanEiew aritet from my com- 
puaoo. It it to txkc the cfcct for the cause. One half of the 
ncM^ BUDcly* oar cooncctiog the Kuse of paio with the idea of it, 
hag cndcmly oochiog to do with Belf-love : oor do I see any more 
natOB fer ascribing the active impulse which follows to this principle, 
■Dce it doe* Dot tend to remore the idea of the object as it gires me 
paia, or as it actually affects mystify but as it is 8uppo«ed to affect 
iDother. Self, mere positive self, is entirely forgotten, both praccicalty 
and consdously. The effort of the mind is not to remove the idea 
or the immediate fceUng of pain as an abstract impression of the 
iodindual, but as it repreKots the pain which another feels, and is 
conoected ivith the idea of another's pain. So long then as this 
imaginary idea of what another feels excites my sympathy with him, 
as it fixes my attention on his sufferings, however painful, as it impels 
mc to his relief, and to employ the necessary means for that purpose^ 
at the expense of my ease and satisfaction, that is, so long as I am 
intereited for others, it is not true that my only concern is for myself, 
or that I am governed solely by the principles of self-interest. 
Abstract our sympathy as it were from itself, and resolve it into 
another principle, and it will no longer produce the cflccis which we 
constantly see it produce wherever it exists. Let us 8up|>08e, for a 
moment, that the sensations of others were embodied by some means 
or other with our own, that we felt for them exactly as for ourselves, 
would not this give us a real sympathy in them, and extend our 
interest and identity beyond ourselves? Would (he motives and 
principles by which we are actuated be the same as before? But 
the imagination, though not in the same degree, produces the same 
effects: it modiBes and overrules the impulses of self-love, and binds 
us to the interests of others as to our own. If the imagination gives 
us an artificial interest in the welfare of others, if it determines my 
feelings and actionti, and if it even for a moment draws them off from 
the pursuit of an abstract principle of self-interest, then it cannot be 
mainuined that self-love and benevolence are the same. The motives 
that give birth to our social affections are by means of the under- 
standing as much regulated by the feelings of others as if we had a 
real communication and sympathy with them, and are swayed by an 
impulse altogether foreign to self-love. If it should be said, that after 
all we are as selfish as we can be, and that the modifications and 
14« 



ON SELF-LOVE 

tions of the principle of self-love are only a necessary con- 
se<{ueoce of che nature of a thinking being, I answer, that this is the 
very point [ wish to establish ; or that it is downright nonsense to 
talk of a principle of entire selfishnesii in connexion with a power of 
reriection, that is, with a mind capable of perceiving the consecjuences 
of things beyond itself, and of being affected by them. 

Should any desperate metaphysician persist in afHrming that my 
love of ocheri is still the love of myself, because the impression 
exciting my sympathy must exist in my mind, and so be a part of 
myself, I would answer that this is using words without affixing any 
distinct meaning to them. The love or aifection excited by any 
general idea existing in my mind, can no more be said to be the love 
of myself, than the idea ol another person is the idea of myself, 
because it is I who perceive it. This method of reasoning, however, 
will not go a great way to prove the doctrine of an abstract principle 
of self-interest ; for, by the same rule, ic would follow that in hating 
another person I hate myself. Indeed, upon this principle, the whole 
structure of language is a continued absurdity. It is pretended by a 
violent assumption, that benevolence is only a desire to prolong the 
idea of another's pleasure in one's own mind, because the idea exists 
there : malevolence must, therefore, be a disposition to prolong the 
idea of pain in one's own mind for the same reason, that is, to injure 
oneself, for by this philosophy no one can have a single idea which 
does not refer to, nor any impulse which does not originate in, self. 
But the love of others cannot be built on the love ol self, considering 
this last ai the effect of * physical sensibility ; ' and the moment we 
resolve self-love into the rational pursuit of a remote object, it has 
been shown that the same reasoning applies to both, and that the love 
of others has the same necessary foundation in the human mind as 
the love of ourselves. 

I have endeavoured to prove that there is no real, physical, or 
essential difference between the motives by which we are naturally 
impelled to the pursuit of our own welfare and that of others. The 
truth of this paradox, great as it seems, may be brought to a very fair 
test : namely, the being able to demonstrate that the doctrine of self- 
interest, as it is commonly understood, is in the nature of things an 
abftolute impossibility; and, the being able to account for that hypo- 
thesis, — that is, for the common feeling and motive* of men from 
habits, and a confused association of ideas aided by the uie of language. 
If others cannot answer my reasons, and if I can account for their 
prejudices, I should not be justilied in hastily relinquishing my 
opinion, merely on account of its singularity. It may not be improper 
briefly to recapitulate the former argument aa far as it proceeded. I 

'49 




ON SELF-LOVE 



am far from denying that there is a difference between real or physical 
impulses and ideal motives, but I coDiend that this distinction is quite 
beside the prescDt purpose. For eelf-loTc properly reUtes to action, 
aod all action relates to the future, and all future objects are ideal, 
and the interest wc take in all such objcctii, and the motives to the 
pursuit of them are ideal too. The distinction between self-love and 
benevolence, therefore, as separate principles of action, cannot be 
founded on the difference between real and imaginary objects, between 
physical and rational motives, inasmuch as the motives and objects of 
the one and the other are equally ideal things. Whether we volun- 
tarily pursue our own good or that of another, we must inevitably 
pursue that which is at a distance from us, something out of ourselves, 
abstracted from the being that acts and wills, and that is incompatible 
always with our present sensation or physical existence. Self-tore, 
therefore, as the actuating principle of the mind, must imply the 
efficacy and operation of the imagination of the remote ideais of things, 
M connected with voluntary action, and the most refined benevolence, 
the greatest sacrifices of natural affection, of sincerity, of friendship, 
or humanity, can imply nothing more. The notion of the necessity 
of actual objects or impressions as the motives to action could not so 
easily have gained ground as an article of philosophical faith, but 
from a perverse distinction of the use of the idea to abstract defini- 
tions or external forms, having no reference to the feelings or passions ; 
and again from associating the word imagination with merely fictitious 
situations and events such as never have a real existence, and which 
consequently do not admit of action. If then self-love, even the most 
gross and palpable, can only subsist in a rational and intellectual nature, 
not circumscribed within the narrow limits of animal life, or of the 
ignorant present time, but capable of giving life and interest to the 
forms of its own creatures, to the unreal mockeries of future things, 
to that shadow of itself which the imagination sends before ; is it not 
the height of absurdity to stop here, and poorly and pitifully to sup- 
pose that this pervading power must bow down and worship this idol 
of it« own making, and become iti blind and servile drudge, and that 
it cannot extend its creatures as widely around it, as it projects them 
forward, that it cannot breathe into all other forms the breath of life, 
and eitdow even sympathy with vital warmth, and diffuse the soul of 
morality through all the relations and sentiments of human life ? Take 
away the real, physical, mechanical principle of belf-intcrest, and it 
will have no basis to rest upon, but that which it has in common with 
every principle of natural justice or humanity. That there is no real, 
physical, or mechanical principle of selfishness in the mind, has been 
abundantly proved. All that remains is, to show how the continued 
150 



ON SELF-LOVE 



idroiity of the iadividual wtth himself hu given rise lo the notion of 
aelf-interest, which after what has been premised will not be a very 
difficult task. What I shall attempt to show will be, that individu- 
&licy expresses not either absolute unity or real identity, but properly 
luch a particular relation between a number of things as produces an 
immediate or continued connexion between them, and a correspondent 
marked separation between them and other things. Now, in coexist- 
ing things, one part may by means of this communication mutually act 
and be acted upon by others, but where the connexion is continued, 
or in successire identity of the individual, though what follows may 
depend intimately on what has gone beforct that is, be acted upon by 
it, it cannot react upon it ; that is, the identity of the individual with 
itself can only relate practically to its connexion with iu past, and 
not with its future self. 

Every human being it distinguished from every other human being 
both numerically and characteristically. He must be numerically 
distinct by the supposition, or he would not be another individual, but 
the same. There is, however, no contradiction in supposing two 
iodividuals to possess the same absolute properties : but then these 
original properties must be ditferently mcxliBcd afterwards Irom the 
occessary difference of their situations, unless we conceive thetn both to 
occupy the same relative situation in two distinct systems, corresponding 
exactly with each other. In fact, every one is found to differ essentially 
from every one else ; if not in original qualities, in the circumstances and 
events of their lives, and consequently in their ideas and characters. In 
thinking of a number of individuals, I conceive of them all asdilTering 
in various ways from one another as well as from myself They differ 
in 8ize,in complexion, in features, in the expression of their countenances, 
in age, in occupation, in manners, in knowledge, in temper, in power. 
It is this perception or apprehension of their real differences that first 
enaUes me to dihdnguish the several individuals of the species from 
each other, and that seems to give rise to the most obvious idea of 
individuality, as representing, first, positive number, and, secondly, the 
sum of the differences between one being and another, as they reaUy 
exist, in a greater or less degree in nature, or as they would appear to 
exist to an impartial spectator, or to a perfectly intclligeot mincf. But 
/ am not in reality more different from others than any one individual 
is from any other individual, neither do I in fact suppose myself to 
differ really from them otherwise than as they differ from each other. 
What is it then that makes the difference seem greater to me^ or that 
makes me feel a greater change in passing from my own idea to that 
of another person, than in passing from the idea of another person to 
that of any one else ? Neither my existing as a separate being, nor 



ON SELF-LOVE 

my diftcriDg from others, ia of itself nifficient to account for the idea 
of self, since I might e<]ualiy perceive others to exist and compare 
their actual differences without ever having this idea. 

Farther, individuality^ is sometimes used to express not so much the 
absolute difference or distinction between one individual and another, 
as a relation or comparison of that individual with itwlf, whereby we 
tacitly affirm that it is in some way or other the same with itself, or 
one idea. Now in one sense it is true of all existences whatever that 
they arc literally the sariie with themselves ; that is, they arc what 
they are, and not something else. Each thing is itself, ia that 
individual thing, and no other ; and each combination of things is that 
combination, and no other. So also each individual conscious being 
is necessarily the same with himself; or in other words, that com- 
bination of ideas which represcoti any individual person is that 
combination of ideas, and not a different one. This literal and verbal 
is the only true and absolute identity which can be affirmed of any 
individual ; which, it is plain, docs not arise from a comparison of the 
different parts or successive impressions composing the general idea 
one with another, but each with itself or all of them taken together 
with the whole. I cannot help thinking that some idea of this kind 
is frequently at the bottom of the perplexity which is felt by most 
people who arc not metaphysicians (not to mention those who arc), 
when they are told that man is not always the same with himself, 
their notion of identity being that he must always be what he is. He 
is the same with himHelf, in as far as he is not another. When they 
say that the man is the same being in general, they do not really mean 
that he is the same at twenty that he is at sixty, but their general idea 
of him inclodes both these extremes, and therefore the same man, that 
is, the same collective idea, is both the one and the other. This 
however is but a rude logic. Not well understanding the process of 
distinguishing the same individual into different metaphysical sections, 
to compare, collate, and set one against the otlier (so awkwardly do 
wc at first apply ourselves to the analytical artl, to get rid of the 
difficulty the mind produces a double individual, part real and part 
imaginary, or repeats the same idea twice over; in which case it is a 
contradiction to suppose that the one does not correspond exactly with 
the other in all its parta. There is no other absolute identity in the 
case. All individuals (or all that we name such) are aggregates, and 
aggregates of dissimilar things. Here, then, the question is not how 
we distinguish one individual from another, or a number of things 
from a number of other things, which distinction is a matter of 
absolute truth, but how wc come to confound a number of things 
together, and consider many things as the same, which cannot be 

«5» 



4 



ON SELF-LOVE 



I 



nrictly trne. This idea must then merely relate to luch a connexion 
between a number of tbingi as determines tbe mind to coDBider 
them at one whole, each part having a much nearer and more lasting 
connexion with the rest than with any thing else not included to tbe 
same collective idea. (It is obvious thai the want of this close affinity 
and intimate connexion between any number of things is what go 
far prodoces a correspondent distinction and separation between one 
individual and another.) The eye is not the same thing as the ear ; 
it is a contradiction to call it so. Yet both arc parts of the same body, 
which contains theneand iniinitc other diatinctionfi. The reason of this 
is, that all the parts of the eye have evidently a distinct nature, a separate 
use, a greater mutual dependence on one another than on those of the 
ear ; at the same time that there is a considerable connexion between the 
eye and the car, as parts of the same body and organs of the same 
mind, Similarity is in general but a subordinate circumstance in 
determining this relation. For the eye is certainly more like the 
same crgaD in another individu^, than the dilferent organs of sight and 
hearing are like one another in tbe same individual. Yet we do not, 
in making up the imagitiary individual, associate our ideas according 
to this analogy, which would answer no more purpose than the things 
themselves would, so separated and so united ; but we think of them 
in that order in which they arc mechanically connected together in 
nature, and in which alone they can serve to any practical purpose. 
However, it Reems hardly possible to define the different degrees or 
kinds of identity in the same thing by any general rule. The nature 
of the thing will best point out the sense io which it is to be the same. 
Individuality may relate either to absolute unity, to the identity or 
similarity of the parts of any thing, or to an extraordinary degree of 
connexion between things neither the same, nor similar. This last 
teose principally determines tlie positive use of the word, at least with 
respect to man and other organized beings. Indeed, the term w 
hardly ever applied in common language to other things. 

To insist on the first circumstance, namely, absolute unity, as 
essential to individuality, would be to destroy all individuality; for it 
would lead to the supposition of as many distinct individuals as there 
are thoughts, feelings, actions, and properties in the same being. 
Each thought would be a separate consciousness, each organ a different 
system. Each thought is a distinct thing in nature ; but the individual 
is composed of numberless thoughts and various faculties, and con- 
tradictory passions, and mixed habits, all curiously woven, and blended 
together in the same conscious being. 

But to proceed to a more particular accoanc of the origin of the 
idea of self, which is the connexion of a being with itself. This can 

<53 



ON SELF-LOVE 



only br known in the first instance from reflecting on what paiiet in 
our own minds. I should say chat individuality in this sense does not 
arise either from the ab«olute simplicity of the mind, or from its 
identity with itself, or from its diversity from other minds, which are 
not in the least necessary to it, but from the peculiar and intimate 
connection which subsists between the several faculties and percep* 
tioDs of the same thinking being constituted as man is ; so that, as the 
subject of his own reflection or consciousness, the same things impressed 
on any of his faculties produce a quite different effect upon him from 
what they would do, if they were impressed in the same way on any 
other being. The sense of personality seems then to depend entirely 
on the particular consciousness which the mind has of its own opera* 
tions, sensationG, or ideas. Self is nothing but the limits of the mind's 
consciousncBB ; as far as that reaches it extends, and where that can 
go no further, it ceases. The mind is one, from the confined sphere 
in which it acta ; or because it is not all things. It is nearer and 
more present to itself than to other minds. What passes within it, 
what acts upon it immediately from without, of this it cannot help 
being conscious ; and this consciousness is continued in it afterwards, 
more or less perfectly. All that docs not come within this sphere of 
personal cooBciousnesE, all that has never come within it, is eoually 
without the verge of self; for that word relates solely to the differ- 
ence of the manner, or the different degrees of force and certainty 
with which, from the imperfect and limited nature of our faculties, 
certain things affect us as they act immediately upon ourselves, and 
are supposed to act upon others. Hence it is evident that personality 
itself cannot extend to futurity ; for the whole of this idea depends 
on the peculiar force and directness with which certain impulses act 
upon the mind. It is by comparing the knowledge I have of my own 
impressions, ideas, feelings, powers, &c. with my knowledge of the 
same or similar impreasioos, ideas, &c. in others, and with this still 
more imperfect conception that I form of what passes in their minds 
when this is supposed to be entirely different from what passes in my 
own, that I acquire the general notion of self. If I could form no 
idea of any thing passing in the minds of others, or if my ideas of 
their thoughts and fceliogs were perfect representations, i.g. mere con- 
scious repetitions of them, all personal distmction would be lost either 
in pure sensation or in perfect universal sympathy. In the one case 
it would be impossible for me to prefer myself to others, as 1 should 
be the sole object of my own consciousness ; and in the other case 1 
mutt love all others as myself, because I should then be nothing more 
than a part of a whole, of which all others would be equally members 
with myself. This distinction, however, subsists as necessarily and 
>54 



ON SELF-LOVE 



I 



completely between mytelf and those who rao»t nearly rc»eroble me, 
as between myself and thoie whose characters and properties are the 
T«7 opposite to mine. Indeed, the distinction itselt becomes marked 
and intelligible in proportion as the objects or impresiions themselveH 
are intrinsically the same, as then it is impossible to mistake the true 
principle on which it is founded, namely, the want of any direct com- 
munication between the feelings of one being and those of another. 
This will shew why the difference between ourseWes and others 
appears greater to us than that between other indiriduals, though it is 
not really so. 

Considering mankind in this two-fold relation, as they are to them- 
selves, or at they appear to one another, as the subjecu of their own 
thoughts, or the thoughts of others, we shall find the origin of that 
wide and absolute distinction which the mind feels in comparing itself 
with others, to be confined to two faculties, viz., sensation, or rather 
consciousness, and memory. To avoid an endless subtilty of dis- 
tinction, I have not given here any account of consciousness in general ; 
but the same reasoning will apply to both. The operation of both 
these faculties is of a perfectly exclusive and individual nature, and so 
lar as their operation extends (but no farther) is man a personal, or 
if you will, a selfish being. 1 he sensation excited in mc by a piece 
of red-hot iron striking against any }>art of my body is simple, absolute, 
terminating as it were in itself, not representing any thing beyond itself, 
nor capable of being represented by any other sensation, or communi- 
cated to any other being. The same kind of sensation may be indeed 
excited in another by the same means, but this sensation will not 
imply any reference to, or consciousness of mine ; there is no com- 
munication between my nerves and another's brain, by which he can 
be aiTecied with my senRaiions as I am myself. The only notice or 

rrception which another can have of this sensation in me, or which 
con have of a similar sensation in another, is by means of the 
imagination. I can form an imaginary idea of that pain as existing 
out of myself; but I can only feel it as a sensation when it is actually 
impressed on myself. Any impression made on another can neither 
be the cause nor object of sensation to me. Again, the impression or 
idea left in my mind by tJiis sensation, and Hfterward(i excited either 
by seeing iron in the same state, or by any other means, is properly 
an idea of memory. This recollection necessarily refers to some 
previous impression in my own mind, and only exists in consequence 
of that impressioD, or of the continued connexion of the same mind 
with itself: it cannot be derived from any impression made on 
another. My thoughts have a particular mechanical dependence only 
on my own previous thoughts or sensations. I do not remember the 

'55 



OS SELF-LOVE 

fwlings of any ODC but myaelf. I may, indeed, remember the objects 
which must have earned such and such feelings in othera, or the out- 
ward signs of pasakm which accompanied them. The«e, howerer, 
are but the recoUeaioas of my own immediate impressions of what I 
saw, and I can only form an idea of the feeliogs themselves by means 
of the imagination. But, though we take away all power of imagina 
tion from the human mind, my own feelings must leave behind them 
certain traces, or representations of themselves retaining the same 
general properties, and having the same iotimatc connexion with the 
conKious principle. On the other hand, if I wish to anticipate my 
own future feelings, whatever these may be, I must do so by means 
of the same faculty by which I conceive of those of others, whether 
past or future. I have no distinct or separate faculty od which the 
events and feelings of my future being are impressed before hand, and 
which shows, as in an eochanted mirror, to me, and me alone, the 
reversed picture of my future Hfi;. It is absurd to suppose that the 
feelings which I am to have hereafter, should excite certain corre. 
spondent impressions of themselves before they have existed, or act 
mechanically upon my mind by a secret sympathy. The romantic 
sympathies of lovers, the exploded dreams of judicial astrology, the 
feau of magic, do not equal the solid, Bubctantial abeurdity of this 
doctrine of self-interest, which attributes to that which is not and has 
not been, a. mechanical operation and a reality in nature. I can only' 
abstract myself from this present being, and take an interest in my 
future being, in the same sense and manner in which I can go out of 
myself entirely, and enter into the minds and feelings of others. In 
short, there neither is nor can be any principle belonging to the indi- 
vidual that antecedently ideniifiei his future events with his present 
sensation, or that reflects the impression of bis fnture feelings back- 
wards with the same kind of consciousness that his past feelings are 
transmitted forward through the channels of memory. The size of 
the river as well as its taste depends on the water that has already 
fallen into it. 1 cannot roll back its course, nor is the stream next 
the source affected by the water which falls into it afterwards, yet we 
call both the same river. Such is the nature of personal identity. It 
is founded on the continued connexion of cause and elfect, and awaits 
their gradual progress, and does not consist in a preposterous and 
wilful unsettling of the natural order of things. There is an illustra- 
tion of this argument, which, however qxiaint or singular it may appear, 
I rather choose to give than omit any thing which may serve to make 
my meaning clear and intelligible. Suppose then a number of men 
employed to cast a mound into the sea. As far as it has gone, the 
workmen pass backwards and forwards on it: it stands firm in its 
IS6 




p 



^ 



place, and though it advances further and further from the diore, it is 
still joined to tu A man's persona] identity and self-interest have 
just the same principle and extent, and can reach no farther than his 
actual existence. But if any man of a metaphysical turn, seeing that 
the pier was not yet finished, but was to be continued to a certain 
point, and in a certain direction, should take it into his head to insist 
that what was already built, and what was to be built were the same 
pier, that the one must therefore afford as good footing as the other, 
and should accordingly walk over the pier-head on the solid founda- 
tion of his metaphysical hypothesis — be would act a great deal more 
ridiculously, but would not argue a whit more absurdly than those who 
found a principle of absolute self-interest on a man's future identity 
with his present being, but, say you, the comparison does not hold 
in this, that a man can extend his thoughts (and tiiat very wisely too), 
beyond the present moment, whereas in the other case he cannot 
move a single step forwards. Grant it. This will only show that 
the mind has wings as well as feet, which is a sufficient answer to the 
selfish hypothesis. 

If the foregoing account be true (and for my part, the only 
perplexity that crosses my mind in thinking of it arises from the utter 
imjiosBibility of conceiving of the contrary supposition), it wtU follow 
that those faculties which may be said to constitute self, and. the 
operacJon» of which convey that idea to the mind, draw all their 
fflaterialft from the past and prci^nt. But all voluntary action, as I 
have before largely shown, must relate solely and exclusively to the 
future. That is, all those impressions or ideas with which selfiBh, or 
more properly speaking, personal feelings must be naturally connected 
are just those which have nothing co do at all with the motives 
to action in the pursuit either of our own interest, or that of others. 
If indeed it were possible for the human mind to alter the present or 
the past, so as either to recal what was past, or to give it a still greater 
reality, to make it exist over again, and in some more emphattcal 
sense, then man might, with some pretence of reason, be supposed 
naturally incapable of being impelled to the pursuit of any jkut or 
present object but from the mechanical excitement of personal motives. 
It might in this case be pretended that the impulses of imagination 
and sympathy arc of too light, unsubstantial, and remote a creation to 
infloence our real conduct, and that nothing is worthy of the concern 
of a wise man in which he has not this direct, unavoidable, and 
homefcit interest. This is, however, too absurd a supposition to be 
dwelt on for a moment. The only proper objects of voluntary action 
arc (by necessity) future events : these can excite no possible interest 
in the mind but by the aid of the imagination : and these make the 

<57 




ON SELF-LOVE 



same direct appeal lo chat faculty, whether they relate to ourselvei or 
to otheri, as the eye receives with equal directness the impressioD of 
our owa externa) form or that of others. It will be easy to perceive 
by this train of reasooing how, Dotwithstaoding the contradictioa 
involved in the suppositioD of a generally absolute self-interest, the 
mind conies to feel a deep and habitual conviction of the truth of this 
principle. Finding in itself a continued consciousness of its past 
impressions, it is naturally enough disposed to transfer the same sort 
of identity and consciousness to the whole of its being. The objects 
of imagination and of the senses are, as it were^ perpetually playing 
into one another's hands, and shilting characters, so that we lose our 
reckoning, and do not think it wor^ white to mark where the one 
ends and the other begins. As our actual being ia constantly passing 
into our future being, and carries the internal feeling of consciousness 
along with it, we seem to be already identified witli our future being 
in this permanent part of our nature, and to feel by a mutual impulse 
the same necessary sympathy with our future selves that we know we 
shall have with our past selves. We take the tablets of memory, 
reverse them, and stamp the image of self on that which as yet 
possesses nothing but the name. It is no wonder then that the 
imagination, constantly disregarding the progress of time, when its 
course is marked out aJong the straight unbroken line of individuality, 
should confound the necessary differences of things, and convert a 
distant object into a present reality. The interest which is hereafter 
to be felt by this continued conscious being, this indefinite unit, called 
wf, seems necessarily to affect me in every state of my existence, — 
•thrills in each nerve, and lives along the line.' In the first place 
we abstract the successive modifications of our being, and particular 
temporary interests, into one simple natare and general principle of 
iclf-intcrcit, and then make use of this nominal abstraction as an 
artiftcini medium to compel those particular actual interests into the 
closest affinity and union with each otlier, as different lines meeting 
in the same centre must have a mutual communication with each 
other. On the contrary, as I always remain perfectly distinct from 
others (the interest which I take in their former or present feelings 
being like that which I take in their future feelings, never any thing 
more than the effect of imagination and sympathy), the same illusion 
and trHnB[x)iition of ideas cannot take place with regard (o these ; 
namely, the confounding a physical impulse with the rational motives 
to ACtton. Indeed the uniform nature of my feelings with regard to 
others (my interest in their welfare having always the same source 
and sympaihyj seems by analogy to confirm the supposition of a 
similar limplicity in my relation to myself, and of a positive, natural, 

158 



I 

4 



ON SELF-LOVE 



absolute iotercBt in whatever belongs to that self, not confiacd (o my 
actiial existence, but extending orer the whole of my being. Every 
vensation that I feel, or that afterwards rccuri vividly to my memory 
strengthens the sense of self, which increased strength in the mechani- 
cal) feeling ts indirectly transferred to the general idea, and to my 
remote, future, imaginary interest; whereas our sympathy with the 
feelings of others being always imaginary, standing only on its own 
basis, having no sensible interest to support it, no restless mechanical 
imptilse to urge it on, the ties by which we arc bound to others hang 
loose upon us : the interest we take in their welfare seems to be some- 
thing foreign to our own botioms, to be transient, arbitrary, and directly 
opposed to that necessary, unalienable inteicHt we are supposed to 
have in whatever conduces to our own well being. 

There is another consideration (and that probably the principal 
one) to be taken into the account in explaining the origin and growth 
of our selfish habits, which is perfectly consistent with the foregoing 
theory, and evidently arises out of it. There is naturally, then, no 
essential difference between the motives by which I am impelled to 
the pursuit of my own good or that of others : but though there is 
not a difference in kind, there is one in degree. We know better 
what our own future feelings will be than what those of others will 
be in a like case. We can apply the materials ai^'orded us by experi- 
ence with less difficulty and more in a mass in making out the picture 
of our future pleasures and pains, without frittering them away or 
destroying their original sharpnesses : in a word, we can imagine 
them more plainly, and must therefore be more interested in them. 
This facility in passing from the recollection of my former impressions 
to the anticipation of my future ones makes the transition almost 
imperceptible, and gives to the latter an apparent reality and present- 
ness to the imagination, to a degree in which the feelings ot others 
can scarcely ever be brought home to us. It is chiefly from this 
greater readiness and certainty with which we can look forward into 
our own minds than out of us into those of other men, that that strong 
and uneasy attachment to self, which often comes at last to overpower 
every generous feeling, takes its rise ; not, as I think I have shown, 
from any natural and impenetrable hardness of the human heart, or 
necessary absorption of all its thoughts and purposes in a blind exclu- 
sive feeling of eelf-interesu It conBrms this account, that we con- 
stantly are found to feel for others in proportion as we know from 
long acquaintance with the turn of their minds, and events of their 
tivesy * the hair-breadth scapes ' of their travelling history, or * some 
disastrous stroke which their youth suffered,' what the real nature of 
their feelings is ; and that wc have in general the strongest atuch- 

'59 



ON SELF-LOVE 



roent to oar immediate relatives and friendst who from this inter- 
community of thoughts and feelings may more truly be caid to be a 
part of oursclTcs than from even the ties of blood. Moreover, a man 
must be employed more usually in providing for his own wants and 
his own feelingfl than those of others. In like manner he is employed 
in providing for the immediate welfare of his family and cooaexioaa 
much more than in providing for the welfare of those who are not 
bound by any positive tics. And we accordingly find that the attea- 
tion, time, and pains bestowed on these several objects give him a 
proportionable degree of anxiety about, and atuchmcnt to his own 
mterest, and that of those connected with him ; but it would be 
absurd to conclude that his affections are therefore circumscribed l^ 
a natural nece&nty within certain impassable limits, either in the ooc 
case or the other. It should not be forgotten here that this absurd 
opinion has been very commonly referred to the effects of natural 
anection as it has been called, as well as of self-interest ; parental 
and filial affection being supposed to be originally implanted in the 
mind by the ties of nature, and to move round the centre of self- 
interest in an orbit of their own, within the circle of our families and 
friends. This general connexion between the habitual pursuit of any 
object and our interest in it, will account for the well-known obscrrt- 
tion, that the affection of parents to children is the strongest of all 
others, frequently overpowering self-love itself. This fact does not 
seem easily reconcilable to the doctrine that the social affections are 
all of them ultimately to be deduced from association, or the reputed 
connexion of immediate selfish gratification with the idea of some 
other person. If this were stricdy the case wc must feci the strongest 
attachment to those from whom wc had received, instead of those to 
whom we had done, the greatest number of kindnesses, or where the 
greatest quantity of actual enjoyment had been associated with an 
indifferent idea. Junius has remarked that tViendship is not con- 
ciliated by the power of conferring benefits, but by the equality with 
which they are received and may be returned. 

I have hitherto purposely avoided saying any thing on the subject 
of our physical appetites and the manner in which they may be 
thought to affect the principle of the foregoing reasonings. They 
evidently seem at first sight, to contradict the general conclusion 
which I have endeavoured to establish, as they all of them tend cither 
exclusively or principally to the gratification of the individual, and at 
the same time refer to some future or imaginary object, as the source 
of this gratification. The impulse which they give to the will is 
mechanical, and yet this impulse, blind as it is, constantly tends to 
and coalesces with the pursuit of aome rational end. That is, here 

1 60 



ON SELF-LOVE 



an end aimed at, the desire and regular pursuit of a known good, 
and all this produced by motives evidently mechanical, and which 
never impel the mind but io a seljish direction : it makes do differ- 
ence in the queation whether the active impulse proceed directly from 
the deeire of poiitive enjoyment, or a wish to get rid of some positive 
uneasiness. I should say then that, setting aside what is of a purely 
physical nature in the case, the influence of appetite over our volitions 
may be accounted for consistently enough with the foregoing hypo- 
thesis, from the natural ctfecis of a particularly irriuble state of bodily 
feeling, rendering the idea of that which will heighten and gratify its 
auaceptibility of pleasurable feeling, or remove some painful feeling, 
proportionably vivid, and the object of a more vehement desire than 
can be excited by the same idea, when the body is supposed to be in 
a stale of indifference, or only ordinary sensibility to that particular 
kind of gratificaiion. Thus the imaginary desire is sharpened by 
constantly rectriving supplies of pungency, from the irritation of bodily 
feeling, and its direction is at the same time determined according to 
the bias of this new impulse; first, indirectly by having the attention 
fixed on our own immediate sensation ; secondly, because that par- 
ticular graii6cation, the desire of which is increased by the pressure 
of physical apj)ctite, must be referred primarily and by way of dis- 
tinction to the same being, by whom the want of it n felt, that is, to 
myself. As the actual uneasiness which appetite implies can only be 
excited by the irritable state of my own body, so neither can the 
desire of the correspondent gratification subsist in that intense degree, 
which properly constitutes appetite, except when it tends to relieve 
that very same uneasiness by which it was excited, as in the case of 
hunger. There is in the first place the strong mechanical action of 
the nervous and muscular systems co-openting with the rational desire 
of my own belief, and forcing it its own way. Secondly, this state 
of ooeasiQcss grows more and more violent, the longer the relief which 
it requires is withheld from it : hunger takes no denial, it hearkens to 
no compromise, is soothed by no flattery, tired out by no delay. It 
grows more importunate every moment, its demands become larger 
the less they arc attended to. The first impulse which the general 
love of personal ease receives from bodily pain will give it the advan- 
tage over my disposition to symputhise with others in the same 
situation with myself, and this difference will be increasing every 
moment, till the pain is removed. Thus, if I at first, either through 
compassion or by an effort of the will, am regardless of my own 
wants, and wholly bent upon satisfying the more pressing wants of 
my companions, yet this effort will at length become too great, and I 
shall be incapable of attending to any thing but the violence of my 

VOL. XI. : L 1 6 1 




X 



MADAME DE STAEL^S ACCOUNT OF 

owD »eQsation&, or the means of alleviatiDg them. It would be easy 
to show from many things that mere anctite (gcoerally, at Ieast» in 
rea«oaable beings) is but the fragment of a seli-monog machine, but 
a ftort of half orgaoy a subordinate instrument even in the accomplish- 
ment of its own purposes ; that it does little or nothing without the 
aid of another faculty to inform and direct it. Before the impuliet 
of appetite can be converted Into tlie regular pursuit of a given object, 
they must first be communicated to the understanding, and moidify 
the wilt through thai. Consequently, as the desire of the ultimate 
gratification of the appetite is not the same with the appetite itself, 
that is mere physical uneasiness, but an indirect result of its com- 
munication to the thinking or imaginative principle, the influence of 
appetite over the will must depend on the extraordinary degree of 
force and vividness which it gives to the idea of a particular object; 
and we accordingly find that the same cause which irritates the desire 
of selfish gratification, increases our sensibility to the same desires and 
gratification in others, where they are consistent with our own, and 
where the violence of the physical impulse docs not overpower every 
other consideration. 



MADAME DE STALL'S ACCOUNT OF GERMAN 
PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE. 

Tie Maru'mg CkrvtUU.'] {FtM. 3, 1814. 

The most interesting part of Madame De Stacl's very ingenious and 
elegant work, on Germany is undoubtedly (to literary readers) that in 
which she has sketched with so much intelligence and grace, the 
present state of opinions with respect to philosophy and taste in that 
country. I have not yet seen any satisfactory abstract of her reason- 
ings on cither of theee subjects. The article in The Ed'utburgh Review 
touches but lightly and incidentally on them, from the variety and 
pressure of other topics of a more lively and genera! interest. I shall 
attempt to supply this deficiency, and at the same time to offer some 
farther thoughu on each subject. The two points on which I wish 
to enlarge are the view which Madame De ScacI takes of German 
poetry, as contrasted with the French, and secondly of the spirit and 
principles of the German philosophy, that of Professor Kant, as 
opposed to the French system of philosophy which is not indeed 
peculiar to them as a nation, but common to the age. I ehall begin 
with the last first, not only because it is perhaps the most imporunt, 
but because I think that as the English were the first to propagate the 
tatter system (for the French have only adopted it from tti, carrying 
t6a 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



practical and popular applicadon farther)* wr ought not to be the 
last to dtsctaim and explode it. It may not be uninteresting as a 
branch of national literature, to take a general view of the rite and 
progress of their philosophy, before we come to examine Madame De 
Stae'rfi account of the system which Kant hae opposed to it, and to 
shew in what that system is well founded, and where it fbili. 

According to the prevailing system* — 1 mean the material or modern 
philosophy, as it has been called, all thought is to be resolved into 
sensationr all morality into the love of pleasure, and all action into 
mechanical impulBc, These three propositions taken together, embrace 
almost every question relating to the human mind, and in their different 
ramiBcations and intersections form a net, not unlike that used by the 
enchanters of old, which, whosoever has once thrown over him, will 
find all farther efforts vain, and his attempts to reason freely on any 
subject in which hii own nature is concerned, baffled and confounded 
in every direction. 

This system, which Brst rose at the suggestion of Lord Bacon« on 
the ruins of the school -philosophy, has been gradually growing up to 
its present height ever since, from a wrong interpretation of the word 
eftperietue, confining it to a knowledge of things without us ; whereas 
it in fact includes alt knowledge, relating to objects either within or out 
of the mind, of which we have any direct and positive evidence. We 
only know that we ourselves exist, the most certain of all truths, from 
the experience of what passes within ourselves. Strictly speaking, all 
other facts of which we are not immediately conscious, arc such in a 
secondary and subordinate sense only. Physical experience is indeed 
the foundation and the test of that part of philosophy which relates to 
physical objects : farther, physical analogy is the only rule by which 
we can extend and apply our immediate knowledge, or infer the effects 
to be produced by the different objects around us. But to say that 
physical experiment is either the test, or source, or guide of that other 
part of philosophy which relates to our internal perceptions, that we 
are to look in external nature for the form, the substance, the colour, 
the very life and being of whatever exists in our minds, or thai wc 
can only infer the laws which regulate the phenomena of the mind 
from those which regulate the phenomena of roaccer, is to confound 
two things entirely distinct. Our knowledge of mental phenomena 
from consciousness, reflection, or observation of their correspondent 
sigoa in others is the true basis of metaphysical inquiry^ as the know- 
ledge of /act J, commonly so called, is the only solid basis of natural 
philosophy. To assert that the operationsof the mind and the operations 
of matter are in reality the same, so that we should always regard the one 
as symbols or exponents of the other, it to assume the very point in 

163 




MADAME DE STALL'S ACCOUNT OF 



di^mte* not onW without aoy cndencc* but io defiaocc of rrcry appear- 
ance to the contraiy. 

Lord Bacon was undoubtedly a great man, indeed one of the 
greatest that hare adoroed this or any other country. He was a man 
of a clear and active Bpirit, of a most fertile genius, ofmit designs, of 
general knowledge, and of profound wisdom. He united the powers 
of imagination and understanding in a greater degree than almost any 
other writer. He was one of the most remarkable iosunces of those 
men, who, by the rare privilege of their nature, are at once poets and 
philosophers, and see equally in both worlds — the inditndoal and 
sensible, and the abnracted and intelligible forms of things. The 
Schoolmen and their followers attended to nothing but names, to 
essences and species, to laboured analyses and artificial deductioQ^. 
They seem to have alike disregarded all kinds of experience, whether 
relating to external objects, or to the obacrration of our own internal 
feelings. From the imperfect sute of knowledge, they had not a 
sufficient number of facts to guide them in their expen mental 
researches ; and intoxicated with the novelty uf their vain distinctioos, 
learnt by rote, they were tempted to despise the clearest and most 
obvious suggestions of their own minds. Subtle, restless, and self 
sufficient, they thought that truth was only made to be disputed about, 
and existed no where but In their demonstrations and syllogisms. 
Hence arose rheir * logomachies ' — their everlasting word-iight$, their 
■harp debates, their captious, bootless controversies. As Lord Bacon 
expresses it, * they were made fierce with dark keeping,* signifying 
that their angry and unintelligible contests with one another were 
owing to their not having any distinct objects to engage their attention. 
They built altogether on their own whims and fancies ; and, buoyed 
up l^ their specific levity, they mounted in their airy disputations in 
rcidless flights and circles, clamouring like birds of prey, till they 
equally lost sight of truth and nature. This great man, therefore, 
intended an essential service to philosophy, in wishing to recall the 
attention to facu and experience which had been almost entirely 
neglected ; and thus, by incorporating the abstract with the concrete, 
aod general reasoning with individual observation, to give to our con- 
clusions tliat solidity and firmness which they must otherwise always 
want. He did nothing but insist on the necessity of experience, more 
particularly in natural science ; and from the wider field that is open to 
It there, as well as the prodigious success it has met with, this latter 
application of the word, in which it is tanumount to physical experi- 
ment, has so far engrossed the whole of our attention, that mind has, 
for a good white past, been in some danger of being overlaid by matter. 
We run from one error into another, and as we were wrong at first, 

164 



I 

I 



I 



I 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



we 



in altering our course, we hate paMed into the opposite extreme. 
We despised experience altogether before : now we would have 
ing but experience, and that of the grossest kind. We have, it is 
', gained much by not consulting the luggeBtions of our own minds in 
Btiooi where they ioform us of nothing, namely, on the particular 
taws and phenomena of the material world ; and we have hastily con- 
cltxled (reversing the rule) that the best way to arrive at the know* 
ledge of ourselves also, was to lay aside the dictates of our own con- 
sciousness, thoughts, and feelings, as deceitful and insufftcienc guides, 
though they are the only means by which we can obtain the least 
light upon the subject. We seem to have resigned the natural use 
of our understandings, and to have given up our own existence as a 
Donentity. We look for our thoughts and the distinguishing properties 
of our minds in Korae image of them in matter as we look to lee our 
feces in a glass. We no longer decide physical problems by logical 
dilcfflraas, but we decide questions of logic by the evidence of the 
senses. Instead of putting our reason and invention to the rack 
indifferently on all questions, whether we have any previous knowledge 
of them or not, we have adopted the easier method of suspending the 
UK of our faculties altogether, and settling tedious controversies by 
means of * four champions 6erce — hot, cold, moist and dry,' who with 
a few more of the retainers and hangers on of matter determine all 
questions relating to the nature of man and the limitH of the human 
understanding very learnedly. But the laws by which we think, feel, 
and act, we must discover in the mind itself, or not at all. 

This original bias in favour of mechanical reasoning and physical 
analogy was confirmed by the powerful aid of Hobbes, who was, 
indeed, the father of the modern philosophy. His strong mind and 
body appear to have resisted all impressions, but those which were 
derived ^om the downright blows of matter : all his ideas seemed to 
lie like substances in his brain : what was not a solid, tangible, 
distinct, palpable object, was to him nothing. The external image 
pressed so close upon his mind that it destroyed the power of con- 
sciousness, and left no room for attention to any thing but itself. He 
was by nature a materialist. Locke assisted greatly in giving 
popularity to the same scheme, as well by espousing the chief of 
Hobbcs'fl meiaphyeical principles as by the doubtful resistance which 
he made to the rest. And it has been perfected and has received its 
last polish and roundness in the hands of some French philosophers, 
as Condillac and others. 

The modern metaphysical system asauraes as its basis that the 
0|terationB of the intellect are only a continuation of the impulses 
existing in matter ; or that all the thoughts and conceptions of the 

.6s 




MADAME DE STAEL^S ACCOUNT OF 

mind arc nothing more than various raodificatione of the original 
imprcssionB of things on a being endued with senfiacion or simple 
perception. This lyBtem considers ideas merely as they arc caused 
b^ outward impresflions acting on the organs of sense, and exclude* 
the understanding as a distinct faculty or power from all share to its 
own operations. 

The following is a summary of the general principles of this 

fthilosophy as they are expressly laid down by Hobbes, and by the 
ate« writers of the French school. 

1 . That our idem are copies of the impreuions made by external 
objects on the senses. 

2. That as nothing exists out of the mind but matter and motion, 
so it is itaelf with all its ojwrations nothing but matter and motion. 

3. That thoughts are single, or that we can think of only one 
object at a time. 

4. That we have no general nor abstract ideas, 

5. That tlie only principle of connection between one thought and 
another is association, or their previous connection in sense. 

6. That reason and understanding depend entirely on the mechanism 
of language. 

7 aad 8. That the sense of pleasure and pain is the sole spring of 
action, and self-interest the source and centre of all our a^ections. 

9. That the mind acts from a mechanical or physical neccsuty, 
over which it has ao controol, and consequently is not a moral or 
accountable agent. — The moaner of reasoning upon ibu last question 
is the only circumstance of importance in which Hobhes diffhrs eUcidedty 
from modern writers. 

10. That there i« no difference in the natural capacities of men, 
the mind being originally passive to all impressions alike, and becoming 
whatever it is from circumstances. 

Except the first, all of these positions are either denied or doubt- 
fully admitted by Mr. Locke. It is, however, his admission of the 
6rst principle, which has opened a door directly or indirectly to al) 
the rest. The system of Kant is a formal and elaborate antithesis to 
that which bears the name of Locke, and it is built on * the subUme 
restriction (as Madame de Stacl expresses it) added by Leibnitz to 
the well-known axiom nihil in inulltctu quod non priut in ^en-m — nisi 

INTELLECTUS IPSE-' 

It is in the manner of proving this resuiction, and of explaining 
this word, the intellect, that the whole question depends, and to this I 
shall devote another letter. 

Am Encush Metaphysicum. 



166 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



I 




THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED 

TAt MormiKg Clkromitle.} [Fth. 17, 1814.. 

The principle that alf thf ideaj^ operationr, avdfanthies of the mind may 
he traced tOy and ultimately accounted for, from simple tenjation^ is all 
that remains of Mr. Locke's celebrated Rssay, and that to which it 
owes its present rank among philosophical productions. His various 
attempts to modify this principle, or reconcile it to common notions 
have been gradually exploded, and hare given place, one by one, to 
the more aevere and logical deductions of Hobbes from the same 
general principle. Mr. Locke took the f»cu]ties of the mind as 
be found them in himself and others, and instead of levelling the 
structure, was contented to place it on a new foundation. By this 
compromise with prudence and candour, he prepared the way for the 
mtroduction of the principle, which being once CAtablished, very soon 
overturned all the trite opinions, and vulgar prejudices, which had 
been improperly associated with it. There was in fact, no place for 
ihem ID the new system. I confess it strikes some degree of awe into 
the mind, and makes it feel, that fame, even the best, is not a sub- 
itantial thing, but the uncertain shadow of real excellence, when we 
reflect that the immortal renown, which attends the name of Locke 
as the great luminary of the age in which he lived, is but a dim and 
borrowed lustre from the writings of one, whom he himself calls, and 
who has been universally considered as *a justly decried author.' 
The sentence of the poet is as applicable here as it ever was — 

* Fame i^ no plant that grows on mortal soil. 
Nor in the glistering foil 

Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies j 
But lives and spread* aloft by those pure eyes, 
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove ! ' 

The great defect with which the Essay on Human Understanding 
is chargeable, is that there really is not a word about theunderitanding 
iD it, nor any attempt to shew what it is, or whether it is, or is not 
any thing, distinct from the faculty of simple perception. The opera- 
tions of thinking, comparing, discerning, reasoning, willing, and the 
like, which Mr. Locke generally ascribes to it, arc the operations of 
nothing, or of we know not what. All the force of his mtnd seems 
10 have been so bent on exploding innate ideas, and tracing our 
thoughts to their external source, that he either forgot, or had not 
leisure to examine what the internal principle of all thought is. He 
took for his basis a bad simile, namely, that the mind is like a blank 

167 



MADAME DE STAELS ACCOUNT OF 



abeet of paper, originally void of ail characters, and merely pauive to 
the impressions made upon it : for thi&, though tme as far as relates 
(0 innate ideas, that is, to any impreBstons previoufily existing in the 
mind, ts not true of the mind itself, or of the manner in which it 
forme its ideas of the objcctR actually impressed upon it. The obvious 
tendency of this simile was to convert the understanding into the 
mere passive receiver and retainer of physical impressions, a convenient 
repository for the straggling images of things, or a sort of empty room 
into which ideas arc conveyed from without through the doors of the 
senses, as you would carry goods into an unfurnished lodging. And 
hence, again, it has been found necessary, by subsequent writers, to 
get rid of those different faculties and operations, which Mr. Locke 
elsewhere supposes to belong to the mind, but which are in truth only 
compatible with the active powers, and independent nature of the 
mind itself. It was to remedy this deficiency that Leibnitz proposed 
to add to the maxim of Locke, ihat there is nothing in the underilanding 
tvhich wat not hi/ore in the tenses — * that sublime restriction,' so much 
applauded by Madame de Stacl — * kxceftthe understaneukg itself :' 
and it is to the establishment and development of this distinction, that 
the whole of the Kantcan philosophy appears to be directed. In 
what manner, and in what success (judging from the representations 
we have received of it) remains to be shewn. 

The account which Madame de Stacl has given of this system is 
full of the graces of imagination and the charm of sentiment : it 
passes slightly over many of the difficulties, and boftens the abruptnett 
of the reasoning by the harmony of the style. It is therefore the 
most popular and pleasing account which has been given of the system 
of the German Philosopher : but after all, it will be better to take his 
own statement, though somewhat 'harsh and crabbed' as the most 
tangible, authentic, and satisfactory. 

•The following,' says his translator Willich, * are the clement* of 
his Critique of pure Reasotj^ the first of Kant's systematical works, 
and the most remarkable for profound reasoning and the striking 
illustrations, with which it throughout abounds. 

<We are in possession of certain notions a priori^ which are 
absolutely independent of all experience, although the objects of 

* Thif, irthr traniLition it correct, it proving a great t\t*\ more than Lcibnitx's 
reiinction of Lockc'i <)octrJnc rcauirci, and ti, at it appcart to mc, the great 
Itumblititt block in Kant** Philosopny. It it quite enough to shew, not that there 
arc crrtain nolioni ,'i firUri or indcpcnilcot of trntation, but certain facultie* 
indepenileni of the acntei or aenaiblc objecti, which Are the intellect ittelf, anri 
neceiiary, after the objccti arc given, to form ideas of them. That it to lay, 
idcat are the rciult of the actioo of object! on luch anit luch faculties of the 
mind. Kint'a ootiona A frivri^ teem little better than the Innate ideas of the 

168 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



experience correspond with them, and which are distinguished by 
necessity, and strict universality. To these are opposed empirical 
notions, or «uch as arc only possible a ponerioriy that is, through 
experience. Besides these, we have certain notions, with which do 
objects of experience ever correspond, which rise above the world of 
sense, and which we consider as the most sublime, such as God, 
liberty, imraortality. There is always supposed in every empirical 
nutiun, or impression of external objects, a pure perception a priori, 
a form of the sensitive facult)-, w*. space and time. This form first 
renders every actual appearance of objects possible. By the sensitive 
faculty we arc able to form perceptions ; by the understanding we 
form general ideas. By the sensitive faculty we experience impressions, 
and objects are given to us ; by the understanding we bring representa- 
tions of these objccu before us : we think of them. Perccprions and 
general ideas are the elements of all our knowledge. Without the 
sensitive faculty, no object could be given (proposed to) us; without 
the understanding none would be thought of by us. These two powers 
are realty distinct from one another ; but neither of the two without 
the other can produce a notion. In order to obtain a distinct notion 
of any one thing, we must present to our general ideas objects in 
perception, and reduce our perceptions to, or connect them with, 
these general ideas. As the sensitive faculty has its determined 
forms, so has our understanding likewise forms a priori. These may 
be properly termed catcgoria j they are pure ideas of the under- 
standing, which relate, a priori^ to the objects of perception in 
general. The objects of experience, therefore, are in no other way 
possible ; they can in no other way be thought of by us, and their 
multiplied diversity can only be reduced to one act of judgment, or 
to one act of consciousness, by means of these categories of sense. 
Hence, the categories have objective reality. They are either 
categories of 

I. QvanfiVj, as unity, number, totality ; or, 
1. Of Quaftty, as reality, negation, limitation ; or, 
3. Of Rc/ation, as substance and accident, cause and effect; or, 
4.. Of Modality, as possibility and impossibility, existence ftnd 
non-existence, necessity and contingency. 

* The judgment is the capacity of applying the general ideas of the 

icnooU, or the Platonic irlcia or fotmi^ which are to me the forms of Mothimf, 
The loie aoH timplr qucition it, whether there arc not certain intellectual facultki 
liiitinct from the «en>i:i, which exbl before any iMeai can be formeil, ai it ii not 
deaied by any one, that there irc certain iCQiilivc facvltin which muit eatat 
before any icnaitioni can be received. The one toppoflltion no more implies 
inaau ideaa, than the other impUca innate Knsatioai. 

169 




MADAME DE STALL'S ACCOUNT OF 



; to tW obieciK.' 
( of ikit HdHT*! a 
ttofacndMri 



ntacc TW ob^ 



Eacfc 
Im, filic tW 
nvcBid lo in fim 
Kam docs aoi 



pHt doa 



lo 
cndacrof a»y f iii Jm prapooDoa, bat lo tdjoo ibe i 
aad BiitBM ca rmpo n a fCB of tbc mfcift pans of bia 

'y ■ adannBd, to fijfiw aO tfac [ 
air the faanas iottilect ynih rniM itt « a t| aad accaracy; — b the i 
■■■■ar aa tbedenpbcfcr Umduf hcbasfinnd tbe trae key of i 
hiiiiift1j|Jitr hMafwiiii^t^ wbea be it aUe to aat*« rwry dUEcdty' 
by k. Howracr yiufwiil aad ooafrcbcawve «« may allow the 
virvs of bnatu natDie a a fahled fay tbia pbiloaopber » be, his ixwtfaod 
is aeceasuily defective is sinfrndtj, deanxss, aod force. His 
rcaaooiag is wldom any Hang more than a detailed, panpfarased 
cxalaaatioo of hii original ■tatemeot, UMtead of being (what it ought 
W be) ao fp^ to known facta, or a deduction from acknowledged 
panaBlea, or a dctcctioo of the incootiatCDciet of other writers. 
Tbe extreme inrolutioo and tcchmcaJicy of his icylc proceed from 
tbe »ame source ; that is, from tbe nfrtitity of adapting a conveo- 
lionat language to the artiScial and arbitrary arrangefneat of hii ideaf . 
The whole of Kant's system U rndently an elaborate antithesis or 
coBnadktioe to the modem philosophy, and yet it is by no meant aa 
real appcoximatioB to popobr opinaoo. Its chief object is to oppos^ 
certain fimdaroental principles to the emfnrical or mechanical phik 
sophy, and it either rejects or explains away the more common and' 
estaWished notioos, except so fer as they coincide with the rigid theory 
of the author. He sets oW with a preconcciTed hypothesis; and all 
other facts and opioioos are made to bend to a predominant purpose. 

The founder of the tronjondentai philowphy very properly insists"' 
oo the distinction between the seositire and the intellectual faculties, 
and nukes thin division the ground-work of his entire system. He 
considers the joint operation of these different powers a« oeccssary to 
j\\ v.ur knowledge, and enumerates with scrupulous formality the 
different ideas which originate in this complex progress, and points 
the share which each has in each. The author conceives of 
1 ideas, as ntbitance and aecUgnt, caust and effect^ 



out 

certain 



genera 



wAtr^ ^antiij, rt/aiioa, postihiBty, neceitity, etc as pure 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



• 



idew of the under tundiog ; aod he clastei t^ce and time as primary 
form» of the sensitive faculty.^ All this may be very true; but the 
proof may also be required, and it is not given. Yet modern meta- 
physicians are not likely, cither as sceptical inquirers after truth, or 
as loTers of abstruse paradoxes, to be satisfied with the bare 
astumptioD of a commoa prejudice. They will say, either that all 
these ideas bate do real cxifltcnce in the mind, that they arc mere 
abstract terms which owe their force aod validity to the mechanism 
of language; or admitting their existence io the mind» they will 
contend with Locke, that they are only general, reHex, and com- 
pound ideas, originally derived from sensatioa. * Whence do all the 
ideas and operations of the mind proceed ? * From expcrunte, is the 
answer given by the modem philosophy — Frmn experience and from 
the uniierjtanti'mg^ is the answer given by Kant. The former solution 
has the advanuge of simplicity; aod the logical proof is wanting to 
the latter. To compare grave things with gay, the display which 
this celebrated philosopher makes of his categories, his forms of the 
sensitive faculty, his pure ideas, and ii priori principles, somewhat 
resembles the method taken by Sir [Epicure Mammon in The 
jltchymist to persuade his sceptical friend that he is about co discover 
the philosopher's stone by overpowering his imagination with the 
description of the line things he will do when he has it: — 'And all 
this I will do with the stone.* * But will all this give you the 
stone V says Pcrtinax Surly, who *wiU not believe antiquity' any 
more than our modern sceptics. 

I think that the truth may be got at much more simply, and 
without all this parade of words. The business of the mind is 
twofold — to receive impressions and to perceive their relations; 
without which there can be no ideas. Now the first of these is the 
ol!ice of the senses, and is the only original function of the mind, 
according to the prevailing system. The sccoikI is properly the 
office of the understanding, and is that, the nature or existence of 
which is the great point in debate between the contending parties. 

' Kow Kaol, by thui clming, a* he appirently rioct, the repmentationi of 
■pace and time u fornu of ihc Koutive faculty, ihrowi up the whole argumcnl i 
for if these very complex (not to lay diitractei)) ideal, can be refcrretl to mere 
lenution, I do not »ee why all the leit may not. Time ii obviouily an idea of 
mcceuioD or memory, and omnot be the reiult of an immediate Koiible impret- 
fioii. The only power of the lenaitive faculty ia to receive blin<f, unconacioui, 
imconnecte'l imprewiooi ; the only category of the underatantling ii to perceive 
the reJatiiMM btlwetn thttt imfrttiiom^ ao at to connect them conicioutly together, 
or to form ideal. To ihii category of relation^ ill the other lenrral caiegoriei of 
quantity, totality, cauie ami effect, etc. ai well as the idrai of ipace and time, are 
occetssrily cooKqtKat sad subonliiulc. 

171 



MADAME DE STAELS ACCOUNT OF 

The more complnc and refined openboM of thU bcal^, madk m 
judgiog, rcaMDisg, abttncxxxo, wiliiogf rtc. are either tataXtf dewrd,! 
or at bett retolved tsto stmpk- idea* of teonttoo by Bodcra n 
pbyncal vmert. I know of no better way, chercCDre, to caubBikl 
the contrary faypothois than to take tbne stmple ideas of Ael 
modcnu, and ihcw that they contain the ante ni \tmuy piociplci a6] 
the andenODdiog, the aaioe operatioaa of jodgiog, co^Hrin^ d»>] 
ti^nalii^ ahttneaagt which they diacard with to ranch pralbvndi 
cuDl c iu pt , or treat as accidental and artificial resnhs of wont higbvl 
fiKolty. If it can be proved that the underctinding, in the Kiicl snd. j 
exclauTe lesfc, is necessary to our having any iJeoj whaterer, — tfaift 1 
the very terms are syDooymous and inseparable— that in the £nc ] 
original cooceptioo of the tiraplest object of nature there is impfidj 
the same principlCf a power of perceiTing the relatioos of d ifl eren t j 
things, which is only exerted in a more perfect and comprcbcadvn j 
manner in the most complex and diHicnlt processes of the bn 
imeliea, one would think that there must be an end of the queKioo. 

Am Encush NlrrArHYsicuii. 



THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED 

Tit Mtmimg C^muU.I [hUr€k }. I«l4. 

*For men to bsve reccrane lo nbtletiei is rabn^ rfiSrelliet, waA iIkb la 
compUin that ihcjr iboold be taken off" by rotnutdjr ciamtning these mbctetioi, it 
s itns^ kiod of proceeding.' 

I CAimoT better explain the modern theory of the ondenuading 
(which it will be the object of this letter to coniider) than in the 
words of one of the best and ablest commentators of that school, 
Mr. Home Tooke. 

* The business of the mind,' he says * appears to me to be rery 
■mple. It extends no &rther than to receire impressaoss, that is, 
to hare maations or feelings. What are called its operatioiu are 
merely the operations of language. The greatest part of Mr. Locke's 
Essay, that is, all which relates to what he calls th* cPH^M^om, 
abstraction, cvmfi/rxi/jf generaB'x.aiitmt re/atim, etc. of ideas, doc* 
indeed merely concern language. If he had been sooner aware of the 
inaeparable connection between words and knowledge, be would not 
have talked of the composition of ideas, but would have seen that the 
only conposition was in the terms, and CDnse<{uently, that it was as 
improper to talk of a complex idea as of a complex star ! I will 
venture to say that ii is an easy matter, upon Mr. Locke's own 
principles and a physical consideration of the senses and the miitd, to 

«7» 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



I 



^ 



prove the impossibility of the composition of ideas, and that they are 
not ideas^ but merely terms, which ore general and abstract.' — 
Diversions of Purley, Vol. i. p. 39, 51, &cJ 

Now this is very explicit, and, 1 also conceive, very logical. For 
I am ready to grant that * Mr. Locke's own principles and a physical 
consideration of the mind ' do lead to the conclusions here slated ; 
and it is on that account that I shall attempt to shew thai those 
principles and the consideration of the mind, an a physical thing, are 
m thrmselves absurd. These writers uking up the principle, that to 
hare sensations or feelings was the only real faculty of the mind, and 
perceiving that the having sensations merely was a difTcrt-nt thing from 
having an idea or consciousness of their reUtions (inasmuch as no 
sensation as such can include a knowledge of or reference to any 
other) have inferred very rationally that all the operations ot the mind 
founded on a principle uf general consciousness or common under- 
standing, vi%. comftomuiingy comparing^ Juceming^ judging ^ rcatomag^ etc. 
were excluded from their phyBical theory of sensation, and must be 
referred to some trick or deception of the mind, the mechanism of 
language or habitual association of ideas. According to this theory, 
besides the sensible impressions of individual objects, and their distinct 
traces left in the memory — the rest is merely words. In supposing 
that we combine these different impressions together, that we compare 
different objects, that we reason upon them, it seems we only deceive 
our»elves, and mistake a rapid and mechanical transition from one idea 
to another for the actual perception of the relations between them. 
Thus have these philosophers sacrificed all the known facts and 
conscious operations of the mind to a literal deduction from a gross 
verbal fallacy. For what arc these single objects or individual ideas, 
of which the senses are competent to lake cognizance, and beyond 
which the understanding can never advance a step? Neither more 
nor less than complex and general ideas, which imply all the same 
intellectual impossibilities of comparing, judging, distinguishing, &c. 
#./, of perceiving a number of diversified relations, of connecting the 
MANY into the one, which are objected to the more deliberate and 
formal acts of understanding and reason. The mind, say they, can 
perceive but one idea at a time, that is, it may perceive a square or 
a triangle, but it cannot compare them together, or perceive their 
proportions, because to do this, it must attend to different ideas at 
once. Yet what is this individual idea of a square, for instance, but 
an idea of given lines, their direction, equality, connection, &c. all 



to Iht iimc purpotc Hobbei'i Human Nature, p. i;, and Levtattun, p. 
erVeley'i rrinciplei or Human Koowledge, p. 1 $ and 24. Hume s 



> Sec 
14. BerVeley'i 
Trcxtite, p. 46. Helvetia! on the Mind, p. 10, uid CondUlac's ^ogic, p. 54. 

'73 



MADAME DE STAEL S ACCOUNT OF 

which must be combined together in the mtod, before it can postibly 
form any idea of the object ? Mr. Tooke layt, the complexity is in 
the term. I should say, the individuality ii in the term, that is, in 
the application of one name to a collective idea, which superficial 
rcasoners, at once the slaves of idle juradox and vulgar prejudice, 
have therefore imagined to be oT»e thing. The whole error of thii 
system has, indeed, ariiten from considering ideas themselves, or chose 
particular object<i, which are marked by a single name, or strike at 
once, and in a ma&s, upon the senses, as simple things. But there is 
no one of these particular ideas, as they are called, which is not an 
aggregate of many tilings, or that can subsist fur a moment but in the 
under ittanding. By destroying the com{>08ition of ideas, all ideas as 
well as all combinations of ideas, would be completely and for ever 
banished from the mind ; which would be left a mere iahula raja, a 
blank, indeed, or would at all times strialy resemble what Mr. Locke 
describes it to be in its original state, * a dark closet with a little 
glimmering of light let tn through the loop-holes of the senses/ 

Writers, in general, who have maintained the existence of a 
distinct faculty besides the senties, have applied themselves to shew 
that, besides particular ideas or objects, it was necessary to admit the 
understanding to explain the perception of the relations between them. 
My purpose is to shew that the same ()erce|>tJon of relation, the same 
understanding is implied in the very ideas or objects themselves. To 
have sensations is not to compare them, that is, seosadon and under* 
standing are not the same thing. To have ideas, it is necessary to 
compare our sensationB, that is, ideas and understanding are the same 
thing. 

I can conceive then of a being endued with the power of sensation, 
BO as to receive the direct impressions of outward objects, and also 
with memory, so as to retain them for any length of lime, as they 
were severally and unconnectedly presented, yet without any signs of 
understanding. The state of such a being would be that of animal 
life, and something more (with the addition of memory), but it would 
not amount to intellect. As this distinction is rather difficult to be 
explained, L hope 1 may be allowed to express it in any way I can, 
and without sacrificing to the graces. Suppose a number of animal- 
culz, as a heap of mites in a rotten cheese, lying as close together as 
they possibly can (though the example should be of something more 
* drossy and divisible * of something less reasonable, approaching 
nearer to pure sensation than we can conceive of any creature that 
exercises the functions of the meanest instinct). No one will contend 
chat in this heap of living matter there is any idea or intimation of the 
number, position, or intricate involutioni of that little, lively, restless 
174 



PS 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



tribe. This idea is evidently not contuned in any of the parte 
ieparacely, nor in it contained in all uf them put together. That is^ 
the aggregate of many actual sensations is, we here plainly see, a 
totally different thing from the collective idea, comprehension or con- 
scioiuness of those sensations, as connecied together into one whole, 
or of any of their relations to each other. We may go on multiplying 
sensations to the end uf time, without ever advancing one step in the 
other process, or producing a single thought. But in what, I would 
ask, does this supposition differ from that of many distinct particles of 
matter, full of animation, tumbling about, and pressing against each 
other, in the same brain, except that we make use of this brain as a 
common medium to unite their difTerent desultory actions in the same 
general principle of thought or consciousness — that is, understanding ? 
Or, if this comparison should be thought not courtly enough, let us 
imagine one of Mrs. Salmon's full faced, comely wax-figureH, siictog 
in its chair of sute, to be suddenly endued with life and physical 
organization but nothing more. Such an unaccountable /utuj nature 
would answer exactly to the theory of modem meuphysicians, or 
would be capable of receiving feelings or impresaions by its different 
organs, but would be totally void of any reflection upon them. It 
would be only a bloated mass of listless sensation, a sordid compound 
of proud Hcsh and irritable humours, a mere animal existence, a living 
automation, crawling all over with morbid feelings, but without the 
least ray of understanding, or any knowledge of itself or of the things 
around, incapable of consistency of character or purpose, of foresight, 
deliberation, sympathy, and of all that distinguishes human reason or 
dignifies human nature ! 

Besides actual, sensible impressions, I suppose that there is a 
common principle of thought, a superintending faculty, which alone 
perceives the relations of things and enables us to comprehend their 
connections, forms, and masses. This faculty is properly the under- 
standing, and it is by means of this faculty that man indeed becomes 
a reasonable soul. Without this surrounding and forming power, we 
could never conceive the idea of any ooe object, as of a table or a 
chair, a blade of gr.isfi or a grain of sand. Kvery one of these includes 
a certain configuration, hardness, colour, size, &c. i.e. impressions of 
different things, received by different senses, which must be put 
together by the understanding before they can be referred to any 
particular object, or considered as one idea. Without this faculty, alt 
our ideas would be necessarily decomposed, and crumbled down into 
their original elements and fluxional parts. We could assuredly in 
this case never connect the different links in a chain of reasoning 
together, for the very links of which this chain must consist would be 

"7$ 



MADAME DE STAfiL^S ACCOUNT OF 

ground to powder. Wc could neithrr form any comparison bctwten 
our ideas, nor have any ideas to compare. There would be aa infinite 
divisibility in the impressions of the mind, as well as in the parts of 
material objects, bach separate impression must remain absolutely 
simple and distinct, unknown to and unconscious of the rest, shut up 
in the narrow cell of its own individuality. No two of these atomic 
impressions could ever club together to form even a sensible point, 
much less should we be able to arrive at any of the larger masses or 
nominal descriptions of things. The most that sensation could possibly 
do for us would be to furnish the mind with ideas of some of those 
which Mr. Locke calls the simple qualities of objects, as of colour or 
pretisure, though not as a general notion or diffused feeling, for it Is 
certain that no one impression could ever contain more than the tinge 
of a single ray of light, or the ]>uncture of a single particle of matter. 
Perhaps we might in this way be supposed to possess an infinite 
number of microscopic impressions and fractions of ideas, but there 
being nothing to arrange or bind tliem together, the whole would 
present onty a disjointed mass of blind, unconscious confusion. All 
nature, all objects, all parts of all objecti, would be equally * without 
form and void,' The mind alone u formalivf, to use the expression of 
Kant ; or it is that which by its pervading and elastic energy unfolds 
and expands our ideas, that gives order and consistency to them, that 
assigns to every part its proper place, and fixes it there, and that 
frames the idea of the whole. Or in other words, it is the under- 
standing alone that perceives relation, but every object i^ made up of 
a bundle of relations. In short, there is no object or idea which 
does not consist of a number of parts arranged in a certain manner, 
but of this arrangement the parts themselves cannot be sensible. To 
make each part conscious of its relation to all the rest is to suppose an 
infinite number of intellects instead of one ; and to say that a know- 
ledge or perception of each part separately itfiihoui a reference to the 
rest can produce a conception of the whole, is a contradiction in 
terms. 

Ideas then are the offspring of the undersunding, not of the senses. 
An idea necessarily implies, not only a number of distinct positive 
impressions, but some bond of union between them, some internal 
conscious principle to which they are alike communicated, and which 
grasps, overlooks, and comprehends the whole. The idea of a square, 
for example, is not the same thing with the compound impression 
made by the figure on the senses. For the immediate impression of 
any one of the sides cannot, as a mere sensation, be accompanied 
with an additional knowledge or reflex image of the remaining three 
•ides, but ia a perfectly distinct, physical thing; neither can the 

176 




^ 
^ 



actual co-«xi8teoce of all these impressions be accompanied with a 
coB9ciousoc«3 of thcir mutual relations to each other, i.e. with an idea 
of the whole, without fiupposing some general representative facul^t 
to which these distinct impressions are referred. 

Otherwise, different impressions made on the same organized or 
sentient being would no more produce the slightest continuity of 
thought or idea of the same object than different physical impressions 
conveyed to different organized beings would produce an immediate 
consciousness of these different objects or of the relations between 
them. If to have sensations were the same thing as to compare them, 
then different persons seeing different objects might without any 
communication make an exact comparison between them. If to have 
the sensible impression of the different parts of an object were the 
same thing as to form an idea of it, then different persons looking at 
the two halves of any object would be able to compound an idea of 
the whole between them, though each of them was perfectly 
unconscious of what was passing in the other's mind. Unless we 
suppose some faculty of this sort which opens a direct communication 
between our perceptions, so that the same thinking principle is at the 
same time cognisant of dilTerent impressions, and of their relations to 
each other, it seems a thing impossible to conceive bow any com- 
parison can take place between different impressions existing at the 
same time, or between our pust and prescni impressions, or ever to 
explain what is meant by saying, * J perceive such and such objects, 
/ remember such and such events,* since these different impressions 
are evidently referred to the same conscious being, which very idea 
of iodividuality could never have been so much as conceived of, if 
there were no other connection between our perceptions, than that 
which arises from the juxtaposition of the particles of matter on 
which they arc actually impressed, or from *a physical consideration 
of the senses and the mind/ The mind in this case consisting of 
nothing more than a succession of material points, each part would 
be sensible of the corresponding part of any object which might be 
impressed upon it, but could certainly know nothing of the impression 
which was made on any other part of the same organic substance, 
except by its communication to the same general principle of under- 
standing. Ideas would exist in the mind, like tapestry figures or 
jnctures in a gallery, without a spectator. On this hypothesis, I 
perfectly agree with Mr, Horne Tooke, that it would bie as absurd 
to talk of a complex idea as of a complex star ; for each impression 
or sensation must be hi perfectly distinct from, and unconneaed vrith 
the rest, as the stars that compose a constellation. One idea or 
impression would have no more connection with any other, than if it 

VOL. XI. : M 177 




MADAME DE STALL'S ACCOUNT OF 

were parcel of another intellect, or floated in the region of the 
rooon.^ 

It is straoge that Mr. Locke should rank amon^ simple ideas that 
of number, which he defines to be the idea of unity repeated. But 
how the impression of succesaivc or distinct units should e?cr give 
the idea of repetition^ unless the former instancei: are borne in mind, 
I have not the slightest conception. There might be an endless 
transition front one unit to another, but no addition made or ideal 
aggregate formed. As well might wc suppose, that a body of an 
inch diameter, by shifting from place to place, may enlarge its 
dimensions to a foot or a mile, as that a succession of units, perceived 
separately, should produce the complex idea of multitude. On the 
mechanical hypothesis, the mind can receive or attend to but one 
impression at a time, and the idea oi number would be too mighty 
for iu Though Mr. Locke constantly supposes the mind to perceive 
relations, and explains its common operations on this priDclpfe, there 
is but one place in his work in which he seems to have been upon 
the point of discovering that this principle lies at the foundation of, 
and is absolutely necessary to all our ideas whatever. He says, in 
the beginning of his chapter on Power, which he classes among 
simple ideas, * 1 confess power includes in it some iiW of reiation 
{a relation to action or change), as, indeed, which of our ideas, of 

' * L.iitl)', that tlierc i> lunic unc principle ur lubtunce, ibiulutely limplc ia its 
naturr, ami iliitinct from cvtry compotition of matter, which is the uat of thought, 
the soul of m3n, and the bond of our exiitencc, will appear evirleiit to aoy one who 
coniidcra ihe nature of judirmeDt and comparitott • where both tenna of the one, 
and both branchca of the other muit be apprchenited together, in order to deter* 
mine between them. Let one man be ever ao well acquainteti with St. Peter"! at 
Rome, and another with St. Paul'i in London, they can never tell which is the 
brger, the handsomer, or rnnke any other comparison between the two buildings 
by virtue uf this knowledge. But you will say, the one may communicate hit 
knowlctige to the other t but then that other hat the idea of both before him io 
hii imaginatioo, ami it is from this that he formi his jur^gment. Nor ii the case 
difFercot with respect to the parti of a percipient bclaj;: let the idea of an elepbaot 
be impressed upon particle a, and that of i mouse upon particle ^, they can never 
know either Jointly or separately which is the larger creature : nor can a judge- 
ment be formeii till the ideas of both coincide in one and the aame individual. 
This is the common sense of manlunri. For when wc make use of the pronouns, 
I, He,you,&c.and %Ay^ i heard mucM a lotaJ ; J lau/ tucA a tigAt ; tr Jill lutk a 
icflwr/M ; are not these iliff^crenC imprcHions all referred by implication to the 
same simple individual ? Or were I to say, that in looking at « chess-board for 
instance, one part of me saw the yellow king, another the black, another the 
queen, another the biabop, and lo on, ibould 1 not be laughed at by every body as 
not knowing what I was talking about?' — Tucker's Light of Nature pumied, 
chapter on the In-lepemlcnt Existence of Mind. See also Rousseau's reasoning In 
Answer to Hctvetiui, Emile:, tom. 3. And Bentley'i Sermons al the Boyle 
Lectnre. 
178 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 

what kind soever, when attentively considered, does not ? For our ideas 
of extension, duration, and number, do they not all contain in them 
a secret relation of the parts ? Figure and modon have somethtDg 
relative in thcni much more visibly ; and sensible aualities, as colours 
and smells, what are they but the powers of different bodies to 
relation to our perception ? And if considered in the things them- 
selves, do they not depend on the bulk, figure, texture, and motion 
of the parts? All which include some kind of relation in them. 
Our idea, therefore, of power, I think, may well have a place 
amongst other simple ideas, and be considered as one of them, being 
one of those that make a principal ingredient in our complex ideas of 
substances.' — Essay on Human Understanding, vol. 1. p. 234. 

That is to say, in other words, the idea of power, though 
confessedly complex, according to Mr. Locke, as dejfending on 
the changes we observe produced by one thing on another, is to 
pau for a simple idea, because it has as good a right 10 this denomina- 
tion as other complex ideas, which are usually classed as simple ones. 
It is thus that the inquiring mind seems to be always hovering on the 
brink of truth : but timidity, or indolence, or prejudice, makes us 
shrink back, unwilling to trust ourselves to the fathomless abyss. 

I have thus given the best account which it is in my power to 
give of the understanding, as that conscious, comprehensive principle, 
which is the source not only of judgment and reasoning, but which 
is implied in every possible idea of the mind, or conception even of 
sensible objects. Every such object, it has been shewn, is made up 
of a number of individual impressions, yet how these perfectly 
detached, and desultory impressions should of themselves contain 
or produce a knowledge of their relations to each other, of their 
order, number, likeness, distances, limits, &c. by which alone they 
can be connected into one whole — without being first communicated 
to the same conscious principle of thought, 10 one diffusive, and yet 
self-centered intellect, one undivided active spirit, co-extended with 
the object, and yet ever present to itself, that 

* Thrilh in each nerve, and live» along the line,' 

it is difficult to imagine. There is no idea that is not evolved from 
this CO instantaneous power in the mind. The activity which Shake- 
speare ascribes to ytrieJ is not greater than that which is necessary 
to the production of the meanest thought. * Jove's light*nings more 
momentary and sight-outruDDing are not ! ' 

Ak Engush Metaphvsicun. 



179 




MADAME DE STAfiL'S ACCOUNT OF 



THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED 
(ON ABSTRACTION) 

Tkt MttHtHg CAnmitle.} [/fpri/ 8, 1814. 

1 AM aware that the long digression on Che formacioa of our ideas, 
with which I troubled you in my last, will be looked upon as rhapsody 
and extravagance by the strictest sect of those who arc called phito- 
iopfaers. The understanding has been set aside by these ingenious 
persons as an awkward incumbrance, since they conceived it practic- 
able to carry on the whole business of thought and reason by a 
succession of iodividual images and sensible points. The fine network 
of the mind, the intellectual cords that bind and hold our scattered 
perceptions together, and form the living line of communication 
between them, ore dissolved and vanish before the clear light of 
modem metaphysics, as the gossamer is dissipated by the sun. The 
adepts in this system smile at the contradictions involved in the 
supposition of perceiving the relations between different things, and 
siy that the common theory of the understanding leads to the 
absurdity that the mind may attend to two ideas at once, which is 
with them impossible. What 1 have endeavoured to establish, is, 
that if the mind cannot have more than one idea at a time, it can 
never have any, since all the ideas wc know of consist of more than 
one ; and though the conviction we have of attending to different 
impressions at once, when we compare, distinguish, judge, reason. Sec. 
has been gratuitously resolved into a deception of the mind, mistaking 
a rapid succession of objects for a joint conception of them, yet it 
will hardly be pretended that wc deceive ourselves in thinking we 
have any ideas at all. Whether the advocates for t}iis hypothesis 
will sit down contented under the total dissipation of all thought, the 
utter privation of all ideas, to which, by their own arguments, t hey 
will have reduced themselves, it remains for them to determine. Wc 
have seen that Mr. Tooke resolves the complexity of our ideas into 
the complexity of the terms made use of. How a term can be 
complex, otherwise than from the complexity of itB meaning, that 
is, of the idea attached to it, is by no means easy to understand. 
Other writers, to avoid the seeming contradiction of supposing the 
mind to divide its attention t>etween different objects, have suggested 
the instant of its passing from one to the other as the true point of 
comparison between them ; or that the time when it had the idea of 
both together, was the time when it had an idea of neither. To 
ftoch absurdities are ingenious men driven by setting up argument 
against fact, and denying the most obvious truths for which they 
180 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



SDDOC account, like the sophist who denied the existence of motion, 
because he could not underKtaod its nature. It might perhaps be 
deemed a sufficient answer to those who build systems and lay down 
learned propositions oa the principle that the mind can comprehend 
but one idea at a time, to say that they consequently cao have no 
meaning in what they write, since when they begin a sentence, they 
cannot have the least idea what will be the end of it, and by the time 
they get there, must toully forget the beginning. — * Peace to all 
such.'i 

Mr. Home Tooke justly complains of the uncertainty, confusion, 
and laxity of Mr. Lockers reasoning on the subject of abstract ideas, 
though I cannot agree with hira that it is therefore ' very dilTerent from 
that incomparable author's usual method of proceeding/ — See Essay 
on Human Understanding, vol. ii. p. 15, &c. 

I am quite at a loss to determine, from Mr. Locke's varioiu 
statements, whether he really supposed the abstraction to be in the 
ideas, or merely in the ternu. There is none of this wavering and 
perplexity in the minds of his French commcotator&, none of this 
suspicion of error, and anxious desire to correct it ; no unforeseen 
objections arise to stagger their natural confidence in themselves ; it 
is all the same light, airy, self-complacency, not a speck is seen to 
sully the clear sky of their philosophy, not a wrinkle disturbs the 
smooth and smiling current of their thoughts. In the Logic of the 
Abbe Condillac, that manual of the modem sciolist, the question of 
abstract ideas is settled and cleared from all difficulties, past, present, 
and to come, with as little expence of thought, time, and trouble, as 
possible. The Abbe demonstrates with ease. 

• But what in truth,* he asks, • is the reality which a general and 
abstract idea has in the mind? It is nothing but a name; or if it is 
any thing more, it necessarily ceases to be abstract and general. If 
in thinking of a man in general I contemplate anything in this word, 
besidefi the mere denomination, it can only be by representing to 
myself some one man ; and a man can 00 more be a man in the 
abstract in my mind than in nature. Abstract ideas are therefore 

* So licile hu this principle of the oniry of thought and contcioDiocBt been amlcr* 
■tood, that c\'cn Profcstor Stewart, the great cbampIoD of the intctUcttiil philoiophy, 
utterly reject* it, »nd iuppo»ei that the i>ieu which the mind forrai of any viiible 
figure it nothing but 1 rapid lucceaiion of ihe idea) of the «everal parts. S«e his 
rc*to[iing on thii lubjecl molt ably confuted in 3 work lately publtihcd, entitled 
' An Easay on Coniciouinew, by John Fcarn,*— Thii Euay, in ipite of the diiad- 
wantagc of the mechanical hypothetia with which it ■• encumbered, and the 
technical obscurity of the fttyle, containt, I think, more close and oiiginsl obterva- 
tion on the individual procetsei of the hainan mind, thsn say work publiahed in 
this country in the last Afty years. 

181 



MADAME DE STAfiLS ACCOUNT OF 



only deaoroioationB. Thii confirms what we have already demon- 
strated, how necessary words arc to us ; for if we bad no general 
terms, we should have no abstract ideas ; if we bad no abstract ideas, 
we should have neither genera nor speciej ; and without genera and 
tfuc'uj^ we could reason ui>on nothing. To speak, ro reaiton, to form 
general and abstract ideas, are then in fact the same thing; and this 
truth, simple ae it ia, might pass for a discovery. Ceruinly, men in 
general have not even had a notion of it.' — Logic, p. 136. 

Now, in order to prevent these genera and speciej, and alt rational 
ideas along with them, from being precipitated into the empty abyss 
of words prepared for them by these philosophers, it may be proper 
to ask one question, viz. if we have no idea of genera and tpeciett or 
of what different things have in common or alike, that is, if the idea is 
nothing but the name, how is it that we know when to apply the 
same general name to different particulars, which on this principle 
can have nothing left to connect them in the mind ? For example, 
take the words, a tvlite horte. Now, say they, it is the terms which 
are general or common, but we have no genera) or abstract idea 
corresponding to them. But if we have no general idea of tuhite, 
nor any general idea of a horsty what have we left to guide us in 
applying the phrase to any but the tirst hor&e, any more thao in 
applying the terms of an unknown tongue to their respective objccu \ 
In short, what is it that *puts the same common name into a capacity 
of signifying many particulars,' but that common nature or kind which 
is conceived to belong to them \ Condillac says, that without 
general terms, there would be no general ideas ; it appears to me, 
chat without general ideas there could be no general terms. Language 
without this would be reduced to a heap of proper names, and we 
should be as completely at a loss to class any object generally from 
its agreement with others, or to say at sight, this is a man, this is a 
horse, as to know whether we Hhould call the first man we accident- 
ally met in the fitreet by the name of .lohn or Thomas. The very 
existence of language is alone a sufficient proof of the power ot 
abstraction in the human mind. 

It is 80 far from being true, according to the modern philosophy, 
that we have neither complex nor general ideas, that, I think, it may 
be proved to a demonstration that we have and can have no others, 
I must premise, however, that I do not believe it possible ever to 
arrive at general or abstract ideas by beginning in Mr. Locke's 
method with particular images. This faculty of abstraction is by 
most writers considered as a sort of artificial refinement upon our 
other ideaa, as an excrescence no ways contained in the common 
impressions of things, nor necessary to the common purposes of life ; 

182 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



18 by Mr. Locke altogfther denied to be among the faLuIties ot 
tes. It is described as the ornament and top-addition of the mind 



and 

brutes. It is described as the ornament ;ind top-a - _ 

of man, which proceeding from simple (tensaiions upwards i« gradually 
sublimed ioto the abstract notions of things : — 

*So from the root 
Springs lighter the green ttalk, from thence iht leaves 
More airy, last th? bright consummate flower.' 

On the contrary, 1 conceive that all our notions, from first to la«t, 
are (strictly speaking) general andabstractt not absolute or particular; 
and that to have a perfectly distinct idea of any one individual object or 
concrete existence, either as to the parts of which it is composed, or 
the difTerences belonging to it, or the circumstances connected with 
it, would require an unlimited power of comprehension in the human 
miod, which is imposcible. All particular things consist of, and even 
lead to, an inHnite number of other things. Abstraction is therefore a 
necessary consequence of the limitation of the comprehensive faculty, 
and mixes itself, more or less, with every act of the understanding, 
of whatever kind, during every moment of its existence. The same 
fallacy has led to the rejection of abstract and general ideas which 
has led to the rejection of complex ones ^iz. that of supposing 
sensible images to be perfectly Rimpic or individual things. But the 
truth is, that there is no one idea of an individual object which is 
any thing more than a general and imperfect notion of it : for as 
there is no such idea which docs not relate to a number of com- 
plicated impressions and their connections, so we can conceive the 
whole of no one object. Again, there is no idea of a particular 
quality of any object, which is perfectly simple and definite, but the 
result of a number of sensible impressions of the same sort, classed 
together by the mind under the abstract notion of likeness, or of some- 
thing common between tbem, without attending to thdr difference b 
other respects. 

This view of the subject is not, I confess, very obvious at first 
sight, and requires strong and clear proof, but it also admits of it. 
The only way to defend our common sense against the sophisms of 
the moderns is to retort their own analytical disiioctions upon 
them. 

In looking at any object, as at St. James's Palace, for example, it 
is taken for granted that the impression I have of it is a perfectly 
distinct, precise, and definite idea, in which abstraction or generalisa- 
tion has no concern. Now it appears to me an easy matter to shew 
chat this sensible image of a particular building is itself but a vague 
and confused notion, fwt one precise, individual impression, or any 

'83 




MADAME DE STAfiL'S ACCOUNT OF 

number of impressions, distinctly perceived. For I would demand 
of any one who thinks his senses furoish him with these infallible and 
perfect images of thingH, free from all contradiction and perplexity, 
what is the amount of the knowledge which he has of the object 
before him ? For insunce, is the knowledge which he has that St. 
James's Palace is larger than the houses which are near it, owing to 
his perceiving, with a glance of the eye, all the bricks of which the 
front is composed, or can be not tell that it contains a number of 
windows of different sizes, without distinctly counting them? Let 
us even suppose that he has this exact knowledge, yet this will not 
be enough unless he has also a distinct perception of the number and 
size of the panes of glass in each window, and of every mark, stain, 
or dent in each brick, otherwise, his idea of each of these particulars 
will still be general, and his most substantial knowledge built on 
shadows, that is, composed of a number of parts, of the parts of which 
he has no knowledge. In the same manner that I form an idea of 
Sc Jameses Palace, I can form an idea of Pall-Mall, of the adjoining 
streets, of Westminster, and London, of Paris, of France, and 
England, and of the different cities and kingdoms of the world. At 
least, I do not Eiee the point of separation in this progressive scale of 
our ideas. May I not be able, in looking out of my window, to 
distinguish, Briit, a certain object in the distance, then that it ii a, 
man, then that it is a person whom I know, and all this before I ca 
distinguish his particular features ; and after I can distinguish those 
features, what do I know or see of them, except their general 
form, expression, and effect ? Litde or nothing. Let any one, who 
is not an artist, or let any one who ia, attempt to give an outline from 
memory of the features of his most intimate friend, and he will feel 
the truth of this remark. Yet though he does not know the exact 
turn of any one feature, he will instantly, and without fail, recognise] 
the person the moment he meets him in the street, and that often, 
merely from catching .i glimpse of some part of his dress, or from 
peculiarity of motion, though he may be quite at a loss to define in 
what this peculiarity consists, or to account for its impression on him. 
We may be said to have a particular knowledge of things, in propor- 
tion to the number of parts which we distinguish in them. But the 
real ultimate foundation of all our knowledge is and must be general, 
that is, made up of masses, not of points, a mere confused result of a 
number of impressions, not analysed by the mind, since there is no 
object which docs not consist of an infinite number of parts, and we 
have not an infinite number of distinct ideas, answering to them. 
The knowledge of every finite being rests in generals, and if we think 
to exclude all generality from our ideas of things, aj implying a want 



GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 



of perfect truth and clearnesfi. it will be impOHibie for the mind to 
form an idea of any one object whatcrer. Let any person try the 
experiment of counting a Rock of sheep driven fast by him» and he 
will soon find his imagination unable to keep pace with the rapid 
succestioD of objects, and his idea of a positive number slide into the 
general notion of multitude. But because there are more objects 
passing before him than he can possibly count, he will not, therefore, 
think that there are none, nor will the word, jiock^ present to hii 
mind a mere name without any idea corresponding to it. Every act 
of the attention, every object we see or think of, offers a proof of 
the same kind. 

These remarks will be found to contain the answer to the common 
argument used on this subject, that in thinking of a man in general, 
we must always conceive of a man of a particular size and figure. 
Now if it be meant that when we pronounce the word man^ we have 
either no idea at all, or a distinct and perfect one of an entire iigure 
of a man with all its partK and proportions, it would amount to a 
knowledge, which no sculptor or painter ever had of any one figure 
of which he was the most thorough master, and which he had 
immediately before him. Or if it be only meant that we think of a 
particular height, which must be a precise, positive, determinate 
idea, even this supposition may in the same way be shewn to be 
exceedingly fallacious, and an inversion of the natural order of our 
ideas. For take any given height of a roan, whether tall, short, or 
middle-sized, and let that height be as visible as you please, yet the 
actual height to which it amounts must be made up of the length of 
the different parts, the head, the face, the neck, the body, limb«, &c, 
all which must be diaiinctly added together by the mind, before the 
sum total which they compose can be pretended to be a precise, 
definite, individual idea. In the impresGton then of a given visible 
object, we hare only a general idea of something more or less 
extended, and never of the precise length itself, for this precise 
length (as it is thought to be) is necesaariiy composed of a number of 
subordinate lengths, too many and too minute to be separately attended 
to, or jointly conceived by the mind, and at last loses itself in the 
infinite divisibility of matter. What sort of absolute certainty can 
therefore be found in any such image or ideas, I cannot well con- 
ceive : it iceras to me like seeking for distinctness in the dancing of 
insects in the evening sun, or for fixedness and rest in the motion of 
the sea. All particulars are nothing but generals, more or less defined 
according to circumstances, but never perfectly so. 

Lastly, as the ideas of sensible objects can only be general notions, 
M the ideas of sensible qoalities are properly abstract ideas of likeness 

i8s 



ACCOUNT OF GERMAN PHILOSOPHY 

or of something common between a number of seniible impreiiions of 
the same class or sort. For example, the idea I have of the white- 
ne8« of a marble statue is not the idea of a point, nor of any number 
of points, with all their differences and circumstances, but a relative 
idea of the colour of the whole sutue. Now in arriving at this 
general result, or in classing iu sensible impressions together as of the 
same sort or quality, the mind certainly is not conscious of every stain 
in the colour of the marble, or streak that may happen to vary it, or 
of its shape or size, or of every difference of light and shade, arising 
from inequality of surface. Sec Yet if the idea falls any thing short 
of this minute and absolute knowledge, it can only be an imperf«t 
and abstract one. The idea of whiteness in the same object (or as a 
seneible quality) necessarily implies the same power of tf^z/rar/m^yrwn 
particulari jn the mind, as the general idea o{ whiteness taken from 
dilfcrent objects, from a white horse, a white cloud, a white wall, a 
white lily, or from all the other white objects I have ever seen. 
The precise differences of form, size, and every other actual cir- 
cumsuncc in these particular images, are as little necessary to be 
attended to in forming the general idea of whiteness, as the differ- 
ences of shape, size, and colour in every particle of the statue of 
white marble are to the general impression of colour in the whole 
object. 

I will only add, that the mind has not been fairly dealt with in this 
and other questions of the same sort. The diflficultics belonging to 
the abstraction, complexity, generalization, &c. of our ideas, it is, 
perhaps, impossible ever to clear up ; but that is no reason why we 
should discard these operations from the human mind, any more than 
we should deny the existence of motion, of extension, or of curve 
lines, because we cannot explain them. Matter alone seems to have 
the privilege of presenting difliculties and contradictions at every torn, 
which pass current under the name of facts x but the momeot any 
thing of this kind is observed in the understanding, all the petulance 
of logicians is up in arms against it. The mind is made the mark on 
which they vent all the moods and figures of their impertinence ; and 
metaphysical truth has, in this respect, fared like the milk-white hind, 
the emblem of pure faith, in Drydcn's fable, which * had oft been 
chased — 

With Scythian shafts, and many winged wounds 
Aimed at her heart, was often forced to fly, 
And doomed to death, though fated not to die.' 

An English Metaphysician. 



186 



FINE ART&^BRITISH INSTITUTION 



FINE ARTS. BRITISH INSTITUTION 

Tkt Mormm^ CkrgmUtt.'l {Fibruery ;, 1814. 

The exhibition of this year is, we thick, upon the whole, inferior 
to the one or two last exhibitions ; for though the histonca] depart- 
ment is quite as respectably 6lled, there is not the same proportion of 
pleasing representations of common life, and natural scenery. In 
spite of certain classical prejudices, we should be sorry to see this 
which has been the most successful walk of the modern English 
taichoolv neglected for the pursuit of prize-medals and epic motioiy which 
Hook well in the catalogue. There is indeed u greater difference 
between an historical picture, and a picture of an historical subject, 
than e\en some eminent painters seem to have imagined. But we 
are, we confess, so little refined in our taste, as to prefer a good 
imitation of common nature to a bad imitation of the highest, or 
rather to an imitation of autliing. Many oi the pictures exhibited by 
young artists at this Institution, have shewn a capacity for correct and 
happy delineation of actual objects and domestic incidents, perhaps 
only inferior to the master-pieces of the Dutch school, from the use 
of a less perfect vehicle, and the want of long practice, steadily and 
uniformly directed to the same object. But in the higher, and what 
is rather atTcctedly called the epic style of an, — in giving the move- 
ments of the loftier and more violent passions, this country has 
not a single painter to boast, who has made even a faint approach 
to the excellence of the great Italian painters. We have indeed 
a good number of specimens of the clay-figure, the bones and 
muscles of the man, the anatomical mechanism, the regular pro- 
portions measured by a two-foot rule — large canvasses covered with 
stiff figures arranged tn decent order, with the characters and 
story correctly expressed by uplifted eyes or hands, according to 
old receipt-books for the [lassions, and with all the hardness and 
indcxibility of figures carved in wood, and painted over in good 
■trong body colours, that look as if some of nature's Journeymen 
had made them, and not made them well. But we still want a 
Prometheus to give life to the cumbrous mass, to throw an intellectual 
light over the opaque image, to embody the inmost refinements of 
thought to the outward eye, to lay bare the very soul of pattsion. 
fThat picture is oi little comparative vaJue, which can be completely 
iranjiated into another language, of which the description in a common 
catalogue is as good, and conveys all that is expressed by the picture 
itself) for it is the excellence of every art to give what can be given 
by 00 other, in the same degree. Much less is that picture to be 

187 



FINE ARTS— BRITISH INSTITUTION 

esteemed which only injures and defaces the idea already existing in 
the mind's eye, which doea not come up to the conception which 
the imagination forms of the subject, and substitutes a dull reality for 
high sentiment ; for the art is in this case an incumbrance, not an 
assistance, and interferes with, instead of adding to, the stock of our 
pleasurable sensations. But we should be at a loss to point out (we 
will not say any English picture, but certainly) any English painter, 
who in heroic and classical composition, has risen to the height of his 
•subject, and answered the expectation of the well-informed spectator, 
or excited the same impression by visible means as had been excited by 
words, or by reflection. That this inferiority in English art is not owing 
to a deficiency of genius, imagination, or passion, is proved sufficiently 
b)' the works of our poets and dramatic writers, which, in loftizwss 
and force, are certainly not surpassed by those of any other nation. 
But whatever may be the depth of internal thought and feeling in the 
English character, it seems to be more internait and (whether this is 
owing to climate, habit, or physical constitution) to have, compara- 
tively, a less immediate and powerful communication with the organic 
expression of passion, which exhibits the thoughts and feelings in the 
countenance, and furnishes matter for the historic muse of painting. 
The English artist is instantly sensible that the flutter, grinucc, and 
extravagance of the French physiognomy, are incompatible with 
high history ; and we are at no loss to explain in this way* that is, 
from the defect of existing models, why the productions of the 
French school are marked witli all the affectation of national cari- 
cature, or sink into tame and lifeless imitations of the antiaue. May 
we not account Katisfactorily for the general defects of our own 
historic productions in a similar way, — from u certain inertness and 
constitutional phlegm, which does not habitually impress the workings 
of the mind by correspondent traces on the countenance, and which 
may also render us less sensible of these outward and visible signs of 
passion, even when they are so impressed there ? The irregularity 
of proportion and want of symmetry in the structure of the national 
features, though it certainly enhances the difficulty of infusing natural 
grace and grandeur into the works of art, rather accounts for our not 
having been able to attain the exquisite refinements of Grecian sculpture, 
than for our not having rivalled the Italian painters in expression. 

The strongest exception to these general remarks in the present 
collection, is certainly Mr. Bird's Picture of Joby surrounded by his 
friends. Many of the heads and figures in this very able com- 
position have a strong and deeply infused tincture of true history. 
The best of them arc in a mixed s»le, which reminds us at the same 
time of Annibal Caracci, and N. Poussio. The three finest figures 

t88 



FINE AKTS— BRITISH INSTITUTION 



are undoubtedly those of Job, and the man aod woman seated on each 
tide of him. The couDtcnance of Job displays a noble firmness with 
a mixture of suppressed feeling, not, perhaps, suthciently marked for 
the character or for the interest of the subject. The full grey drapery 
which invelopes his whole Hgure, has an admirable effect, and seems 
in a manner to shroud him from the attacks of external misfortune, in 
the coaftolations of his own mind. The action of the man on his 
right hand, pointing with his tingcr, and indeed the whole figure, are 
equally appropriate and striking. The posture of the man leaning on 
a marble slab, is also natural and picturesc^ue, though it has too great 
an appearance of case and indifference for the occasion. The 
drapery of this last figure is remarkably loose and flimsy, or what 
the painters, we believe, call vuooily. There are several other good 
heads in the picture ; but both the countenance and attitude of the 
man behind the messenger, and the face of the figure between Job and 
the front 6gure in red, are mean and vulgar — mere low life, without 
sense or dignity. The expression in the countenance of the messenger, 
who comes to intorm Job of the last calamity that has befallen him, 
is neither intelligent nor beautifiil ; and the whole of the figure, both 
by its situation and the quantity of light thrown upon it, assumes a 
prommence disproportioned to its importance, and throws the rest of 
the composition into a kind of half back-ground. The story is 
illustrated (whether with chronological propriety or not we leave to 
the critics) by a group of figures just behind the circle of Job and his 
friends, carrying off the dead body of one of his children. The 
great fault of this picture, which displays much sense, character, 
study, and invention, is the heaviness and monotony of the colour. It 
U of one uniform leaden tone, as if it had been smeared over with 
putty, except where a sudden transition tn a glaring red or yellow, or 
the introduction of a spotty light, not at all accounted for, serves, 
instead of relieving, to add greater weight to that mechanic gloom, 
which affects, not the imagination, but the eye. We think it right to 
notice a defect which may be more easily remedied by attention, viz. 
that the extremities of Mr. Bird's figures arc in general very ill made 
out* 

Mr. Alliton*8 large picture of the tirad man rettored to life by touch- 
tng the hones of Ehtfia^ deserves great praise both for the choice and 
originality of the subject, the judicious arrangement of i)ic general 
composition, and the correct drawing and very great knowledge of 
the human figure throughout. The figure of the revived soldier in 
the foreground is noble and striking ; the drapery about him is 
equally well imagined and well executed. There is also a very 
beautiful head of a young man in a blue drapery with his hands lifted 

r89 




FINE ARTS— BRITISH INSTITUTION 

together, aod in the act of attention to another, who is pointing out 
the miracle, which has much of the simple dignity and pathos of 
Raphael. With respect to the general colour and expression of this 
picture, we think it has too much of the look of a rreach compo- 
sition. The faces are in the school o£ Le Brun's heads — theoretical 
diagrams of the passions—not natural and profound expressions of 
them ; forced and overcharged, without precision or rariety of 
character. The colouriog, too, is without any strongest contrasts or 
general gradations, and is half-toned and half-tinted away, between 
reddish brown flesh and wan-red drapery, till all effect, union, and 
relief, is lost. It would be unjust not to add, that we think Mr. 
Allstoo's picture demonstrates great talents, great professional acquire- 
ments, and even genius ; but we suspect that he has paid too exclusive 
an attention to the instrumental and theoretical parts of his art. The 
object of art is not merely to display knowledge, but to give pleasure. 

There ts a small picture of Diana lathing, by this gentleman, which 
we think equally admirable for the character and drawing. The 
knowledge of the human iigurc in this pleasing composition might be 
opposed with advantage to ttie utter ignorance of it in some Musidora 
sketches, in which the Hmbs seem to have been kneaded in paste, and 
are thrown together like a bundle of drapery. 

Of Mr, Hilton's picture of Marj Magdaltn anointing tht feet of our 
Saviour, wc have little more to say, than that the figures arc much 
larger than life, and that, we underiitand, it has been purchased by 
the Institution for 500 guineas. 

Mr. West's picture of Lot and his Juxmify is one of those highly 
finished specimens of metallurgy which too often proceed from the 
President s hardware manufactory. As to the subject, wc conceive 
it has been often enough treated in a country famed for • pure religion 
breathing household laws.' We do not mean to lay it down as a 
rule, tliat the sublimity of the execution may not redeem the deformity 
of the subject of a composition, as there is a great and acknowledged 
difference between Shakspeare and the Newgate Calendar ; but this 
of Mr. West's is a mere furniture picture, and offers no palliation 
from the genius displayed by the artist. Having touched unawares on 
this very delicate subject of the ethics of painting, we shall just notice, 
that the picture of * Venus weeping over the dead body of Adonis,' 
seems to have been painted tout exftrei, for the purpose of being 
bought up by some member of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. 

Mr. Turner's grand landscape of ApulBus and Apu&a has one 
recommendation, which must always enhance the value of this moit 
able artist's productions, that the composition is taken vtrha/im from 
Lord Egremont's picture of *.Ucob and Laban.' The beautiful 

190 



THE STAGE 




arraagemeDt is Claude's ; the powerful execution it his own. From 
this ipecimen of parody, and from his ncTer-cnougb-to-bc-admircd 
pictare of ' Mercury and Herse/ we could almost wish that this 
gcDilcman would aJways work in the trammels of Claude or N. 
Poiusin. Ail the taste and all the imaginatico being borrowed, his 
powers of eye, hand, and memory, are et^ual to any thing. In 
general, his pictures arc a waste of morbid strength. They giTe 
pleasure only by the cxccsa of power triumphing over the barrenness 
of the subject. The artist delights to go back to the first chaos of 
the world, or to that state when the waters were merely separated 
from the dry land, and no creeping thing nor herb bearing fruit was 
seen upon the face of the land. The figures in the present picture 
are execrable. Claude's are flimsy enough ; but these arc impudent 
and obtrusive vulgariiy. The utter want of a capacity to draw a 
distinct outline with the force, the depth, the fulness, and precision of 
this artist's eye for colour, is truly astonishing. There is only one 
part of the colouring of Mr. Turner's landscape which did not please 
ui: it is the blue of the water nearest the foreground, immediately 
after the dark brown shadow of the trees. 

The picture of the Fax^ourite I.amh., by Collias, has exquisite feel- 
ing. The groupe of children surrounding the little victim, and 
arresting hira in his progress to the butcher's cart, has a degree of 
natural pathos and touching simplicity, which we have never seen 
surpassed in any picture of the kind. It may easily draw tears from 
eyes, at all used to the melting mood. 



THE STAGE. 

Th Mtnting Ckramt/t] [Ftlnarjr 24, 1S14. 

The manner in which Shakespeare's plays have been generally 
altered, or rather mangled, by modern mechanists, is in our opinion a 
disgrace to the English Stage. The patch-work Richard which is 
acted under the sanction of his name, is a striking example of this 
remark. The play itself is undoubtedly one of the finest effusions of 
Shakespeare's genius. It is a« truly Shnkesfiearian — that is, it has as 
much of the author's mind, of passion, character, and interest, with as 
little alloy of the peculiarities of the age, or extraneous matter, as 
almost any other of bis productions. Wherever Shakespeare relied 
upon himself, and did not appeal to the taste of his audience, he out- 
stripped all cunipetition, and this he did as often as he had a motive in 
his subject to do so ; he had none in his vanity, or in the affectation of 
conforming to certain critical rules. The winds blow as they list t and 

191 




THE STAGE 

the golden tide of passion no tooner riiei in liis breast, than it swells 
and bears down every thing tn its mighty course. 

The ground work of the character of Richardt — that mixture of 
intellectual vigour with moral deprarity, in which Shakespeare 
delighted to shew his strengtli, — gave full scope as well as temptation 
to the exertion of his genius. The character of his hero is almost 
everywhere predominant, and marks its turid track throughout. The 
original play is, however, too long for representation, and there are 
some few scenes which might be better spared than preserved and by 
omitting which, it would remain a complete whole. The only rule, 
indeed, for altering Shakespeare, is to retrench certain passages which 
may be considered either as superfluous or obsolete, but not to add or 
transpose any thing. The arrangement and developement of the 
story, and the mutual contrast and combination of the dramath 
person*^ are in general as finely managed as the developement of the 
characters or the expression of the passions. 

This rule has not been adhered to in the present instance. Some of 
the most important and striking passages in the principal character 
have been omitted, to make room for tedious and misplaced extracts 
from ocher plays ; the only intention of which seems to have been, to 
make the character of Richard as odious and disgusting as possible. 
A bugbear seems to have been always necessary to the Bnglish nation, 
and — give them but this to vent their spleen upon — they will, either 
in matters of taste or optnion, * as tenderly be led by the nose as asses 
are.* It Is apparently tor no other purpose than to make Gkucester 
stab King Henry on the stage, that the fine abrupt introduction of this 
character in the opening of the play is lost in the tedious whining 
morality of the uxoriouB King (taken from another play) ; — we say 
lediouif because it interrupts the business of the scene, and loses its 
beauty and effect by having no intelligible connection with the 
previous character of the mild and well - meaning monarch. The 
passages which Mr. Wroughton has to recite are in themselves 
exquisitely pathetic, but they have nothing to do with the world that 
Richard has to * bustle in.' In the same spirit of vulgar caricature is 
the scene between Richard and I^y jinne (when his wife) — 
interpolated, merely to gratify this favourite propensity to disgust and 
loathing. With the same perverse consistency, R'uhard, after his last 
fatal struggle, is raised up by some Galvanic process, to utter the 
imprecation, without any motive but pure malignity, which is so finely 
put into the mouth of Norlhumherland on hearing of Percy* s death. We 
hope that Mr. Kean, when he acts Macbeth, will die as Shakespeare 
makes him, and not with four lines of canting penitence (a common- 
place against ambition) in his mouth. To make room for these need- 

192 



THE STAGE 

leis ftdditionR and interpolations, many of the roo«t striking pasuges in 
the real play have been omitted by the foppery and ignorance of the 
prompt-book critics. We do not mean to insist merely on passages 
which are fine as poetry and to the reader^ such as Chwtncex dream, 
8cc. but those which are imporunt to the developement of the 
charaacr, and }>ecu]iarly adapted for stage effect. Wc give the 
following as instances among many others. 

The first is the scene where Richard enters abruptly lo the Queen 
aod her friends, to defend himself : 



Enter GtoucESTEt, 

Gh. They do mc vrrotig, and I will not mdure tt. 

Who are they that cumplain unto the King, 

That I, forwoih, am stem, and love them not } 

By holy Paul, they love \\\% Grace but lightly, 

That till his can with such dissentious rumours \ 

Because I cannot flatter, and look fair, 

Smile in men'» faces, smooth, deceive, and cog. 

Duck with French nods and apish courtesy, 

I must be held a rancorous enemy. 

Cannot a plain man live, and think no harm. 

But thus hi» simple truth mu.^t be abused 

With silken, !tly, iniunuating Jack* .' 

Gray. To tvhom in all tnis presence spcaki your Grace > 
Glo. To thee, that hast nor nonesty nor grace j 

When have I injured thee } When done thee wrong? 

Or thee ? or thee ' or any of your faction ? 

A plague upon you all ! 

What can be more characteristic than the turbulent pretensions to 
meekness and simplicity in this address ? 

Again, the versatility and adroitness of Richard is admirably 
described in the following ironical answer to Brakenbury : — 

Brakfnbury. I bcwcch your graces both to pardon roe, 
His Maje&ty hath straitly given in charge. 
That no man Bhall have private conference, 
Of what degree soever, with your brother. 

Gh. E'en M>, and please your worship, Brakenbury, 
You may partake of any thing we say : 
We speak not reason, man — we say the King 
Is wi» and vinuoiu, and his noble Queen 
Well strook in years, fair, and not jealous. 
We say that Shore's wife hath a pretty foot. 



A cherry lip, a pauine pleasing tongue : 

That the (jueen x kindred are made zcntle folks. 

How say you. Sir f Can you deny all this? 

VOL. XI. : N 



»93 



THE STAGE 

Brait. With this, mj Lord, mjrBclf have nought to do. 

G/o. What, fellovr^ nottght to <lo with Mistress Shore? 
I tell you, Sir, he tliat doth nougbt with her, 
Excepting one, were best to do it secretly alone. 

Brak. What one, ray Lord ? 

do. Her husband, knave — wuuldiit thou betray me • 

The feigned reconciliation of Gloucester with the Queen's Itinenieo, 
ii also a master- piece. One of the finest features in the play» and 
which serves to shew, as much as any thing, the deep duplicity of 
Richard, is the unsuspecting security of HastingSy at the very time 
when the former is plotting his death. 

Perhaps the two most beautiful passages in the original, are the 
farewell apostrophe of the Qugcn to the Tower, where her children are 
shut up from her, and TyrrePj description of their death. We will 
finish our quotations with them : — 

' ^ten. Stay, yet look back with me, unto the Tower; 
Pity, you ancient stones, those tender babes. 
Whom envy hath immured within your walls } 
Rough cradle for such little pirtir ones ; 
Rude, rugged nurw, old sullen playfellow. 
For tender princes ! ' 

The other passage is the account of their death by Tyrrel: — 

' Dighton and Forrest, whom I did suborn 
To do this piece of ruthless butchery, 
Albeit they were flesh'd villains, bloody dogs, 
Wept like to children in their death's tad story : 
O thus ! quoth Dighton, lay the gentle babes ; 
Thus, thus ! quoth Forrest, girdling one another, 
Within their innorrnt alabaster arms ; 
Their lips were four red roscK on a stalk. 
And in that summer-beauty kissM each other} 
A book of prayer* on their pillow lay. 
Which once, quoth Forrest, almost changed my mind. 
But Oh the Devil ! — there the villain stopped : 
When Dighton thus told on — we smothered 
The most replenished sweet work of natxire, 
That from the prime creation ere she framed.' 

These are those wonderful bursts of feeling, done to the very height 
of nature which our Shakespeare alone could give. We do not 
insist on the repetition of these last passages as proper for the stage ; 
we should indeed be loth to trust them with almost any actor ; but we 
should wish them to be reLiined, at leaat in preference to the fantoccini 
exhibition of the young Princes, bandying childish mt with their uncle. 

J94 



FINE ARTS— THE LOUVRE 

We have taken the prcBtnt opportunity to offer theie remarks on the 
necessity of acting the plays of our great Bard, in spirit and substance, 
instead of burteKquing them, because we think the stage has acquired 
in Mr. Kean an actor capable of doing singular justice to many of his 
finest delineations of character. 



FINE ARTS— THE LOUVRE 

Ti* Morning CArmtlf] [Mart A 14, 1814. 

* If Bliicher, if the Cossack^t g« to Paris, — to Paris, the seat of 
Bonaparte's pride and insolence, — what mercy will they shew to it, 
or why should they shew it any mercy ? Will they spare the 
precious works of art, to decorate the palace of a monster whom 
ihey justly detest ? Will they treat the Thuileries more tenderly 
than the French Officers, only eight months ago, openly threatened 
to treat Berlin ? Is Paris, Bonaparte's Paris, more sacred than 
Moscow ? or are the slaves of the Corsican more inviolable than the 
brave and virtuous citizens of Hamburgh? No, no; the indignant 
warriors will cry, — 

"Away to Hcav'n respective Lenity, 
And fire-eyed Fury be my conduct now." 

'There is no other mode by which the Parisians can disarm the 
vengeance which now so closely impends over them, than by dis- 
claiming for ever him whose crimes have been the just cause of that 
vengeance. Paris under the white standard, returning to loyalty and 
virtue, may be spared by a generous conqueror ; — but Paris, identified 
with Bonaparte, must partake alt the vindictive sentiments which are 
attached to that hateful name. 

[Yci some time ago this writer assured us that if the French 
people identified themselves with Bonaparte, they ought not to be 
separated from him.] 

' In what momentous times do we live ! Perhaps, the l^mous city 
of which we speak may even now be laid in ashes I Perhaps and 
more welcome be the omen, it may have returned to its allegiance, 
and proclaimed its native Sovereign, and set a price on the head of 
that wicked rebel who still dares to call himself the Emperor of 
Prance.' — TVww, March 17, 

' Nay, if you mouth, I 'II rant is well as you *. ' 

It is a pity to spoil this morsel of Asiatic eloquence, so worthy oi 
the snbject ind the sentiments ; but the evident meaning of it is, that 

195 



FINE ARTS— THE LOUVRE 

the French must expect to do penance in aack-doth and ashes, or 
consent to put on the old lirery jackets, made up for thent by our 
army-agentB long ago, and which have unfortunately lain on hand ever 
since. If bo, they must needs be * pigeon-liTcrM, and lack gall.* 
Yet we hardly know what to say to the chivalrous and classical 
politicians of the Stock Exchange. They are not driven to the 
extremity of Gothic rage by the ranking inveteracy, and old 
unsatisfied grudge of the Pitt-school. Yet surely no pitiable 
enchusiatt that 

* Scrawls 
With desperate charcoal on his darkened walls/ 

can be more incorrigible to reason. They are always setting out on 
their way to Paris from Moicow, while the Pitt-school studiously 
return to join Lord Hawkesbury in the year 1793, or they think the 
whole ceremony incomplete ! The treaty of Pilnitz does not staxid 
between our modern popular incendiaries and their jui>t revenge ! 
They live only in 'this present ignorant time!* They see the 
white standard of the Bourbons waving over the wall* of Paris, 
unspotted with the blood of millions of Frenchmen ! They do not 
seem ever to have known, or (with our poet-laureat) they forget, that 
the same standard to which our milky politicians advise the French 
people, sick of destruction, and panting for freedom, to fly for deliver- 
ance and repose, is that very standard, which, for twenty years, 
hovering round them, now seen like a cloudy speck in the distance 
— now spreading out its drooping lilies wide, has been the cauK of 
that destruction — has robbed them at once of liberty and of repose I 

Moscow is, however, the watch-word of the renegados of The 
Tintci. It seems to them just that Paris should be sacriiiced to 
revenge the setting fire to Moscow by the Russians, and that the 
monuments of art in the Louvre ought to be destroyed because they 
are Bonaparte's. No ; they are ours as well as his ; — they belong to 
the human race ; he cannot monopolize all genius and all art. But 
these madmen would, if they could, blot the Sun out of heaven, 
because it shineg upon France. They verify the old proverb, 
•Tell me your company, and I Ml tell you your manners!* 
They, no more than their friends the Cossacks, can perceive any 
difference between the Kremlin and the i^ouvre- There is at least 
one difference, that the one may be built up again, and the other 
cannot. For there, in the Louvre, in Bonaparte's Louvre, are 
the precious monuments of art — the sacred pledges which human 
genius has given to time and nature; — there * sunds the statue that 
enchants the world ; * there is the Apolh, the Laocoont the Dying 

10 



FINE ARTS— THE LOUVRE 

GlaAatary the Head of the Antinous^ Diana <with her Fawn, snd all 
the gloriec of the antique world ; — 

* There is old Proteuit coining from the sea. 
And wreathed Triton blows his winding horn.* 

There, too, are the two St. Jeromet^ Corregio's and Domiaichino's ; 
there is Raphael's Trantjisuration^ the St. Mart of Tintoret, Paul 
Veronese's Marriage of Cana^ the Deluge of Nicholas Poussid, and 
Titian's St, Peter Martyr \ — all these, and more than these, of which 
the world is scarce worthy. Yet all these amount to nothing in the 
eyes of those virtuosos the Cossacks, and their fellow-students of The 
'timet ! • What 's Hecuba to them, or they to Hecuba ? ' But we 
niuirt be allowed to sec with our own eyes, and to have certain 
feelings of our own. We will not be brayed by these quacks Rke 
fooh \n a mortar. We too, as Mr. Burke expresses it, have ' real 
feelings of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms.' * We look up 
with awe to Kings ; with affection to parliaments ; with duty to 
magistrates ; with reverence to priests ; and with respect to nobility.' 
But all this is a machine that goes on of itself, and may be repaired 
if out of order. We bow willingly to Lords and Commoners, 
though we know that 'breath can make them as a breath has made.' 
Bliicher, Wittgenstein, Winzingerode, and Ktzichigoff, are true 
heroes; their namen become the mouth well, and rouse the ear as the 
sound of a trumpet; but they are the heroes of a day, and all that 
they have done might be as well done by others to-morrow. But 
here it is : once destroy the great monuments of art, and they cannot 
be replaced. Those mighty geniuses, who have left their works 
behiad them an inheritance to mankind, live but once to do honour to 
themselves and their nature. * But once put out their light, and 
there is no Promethean heat that can their light reluraine.' Nor 
onght it ever to be re-kindled, to be extinguished a second time by 
the harpies of the human race. What have * the worshippers of cats 
and onions ' to do with those triumphs of human genius, which give 
the eternal lie to their creed I We would therefore recommend 
these accomplished pioneers of civilisation and social order, after they 
have done their work at the Louvre, to follow the river-side, and 
they will come to a bare incloBure, surrounded by four low walls. 
It is the ])lacc where the Bastille stood : let them rear that, and all 
will be well. And then some whiffling poet who celebrated the fall 
of that monument of mild paternal sway — that sacred ark of the 
confidence of Kings — that strong bulwark of * time-hallowed laws,' 
and precious rcltc of * the good old times,' in an ode, may hail its 
restoration in a sonnet ! 

197 




WILSON'S LANDSCAPES 



WILS0N*S LANDSCAPES. AT THE BRITISH 

INSTITUTION 

The CJimmfiMn.l [JmIj 17, 1814. 

The landscapes of this celebrated artist may be divided into three 
classes; — his Italian landscapes, or imiutions of the maoner of 
CUadc, his copies of English scenery, and his historical com- 
positions. 

The first of these are, in our opinion, by much the best ; and of 
the pictures of this class in the present collection, we should, witliout 
any hesitation, give the preference to the Apollo and ihi Seajottj^ and 
to the Phaeton, The ligures are of coarse out of the <]uestion — 
(Wilson's figures are as uncouth and slovenly as Claude's arc insipid 
and finical) — but the hindscape in both pictures is delightful. In 
looking at them we breath the very air which the scene inspires, and 
feel the genius of the place present to us. In the first, there is all 
the cool freshness of a misty spring morniag : the sky, the water, the 
dim horizon all convey the same feeling. The fine grey tone, and 
varying outline of the hills, the graceful form of the retiring lake, 
broken still more by the hazy shadows of the objects that repose on 
its bosom ; the light trees that expand their branches in the air, and 
the dark stone ligure and mouldering temple, that contrast strongly 
with the broad clear light of the rising day, give a charm, a trutlt, a 
force and harmony to this landscape, which produce the greater 
pleasure the longer it is dwelt on. — The distribution of light and 
shade resembles the effect of light on a globe. 

The Phaeton has the dazzling fervid appearance of an autumnal 
n'cning ; the golden radiance streams in solid masses from behind the 
flickering clouds ; every object is baked in the sun ; — the brown fore- 
ground, the thick foliage 01 the trees, the streams shrunk and stealing 
along behind the dark high banks, combine to produce that richness, 
and characteristic propriety of effect, which is to be found only in 
nature, or in art derived from the study and imitation of nature. 
The glowing splendour of this landscape reminds us of the saying 
of Wilson, that in painting such subjects, he endeavoured to give the 
effect of insects dancing in the evening sun. His eye seemed formed 
to drink in the light. These two pictures, as they hare the greatest 
general effect, are also more carefully finished in the particular details 
than the other pictures in the collection. Tfais circumstance may be 
worth the attention of those who are apt to think that strength and 
slovenliness are the same thing. 

C'teero at fnt VlUa is a clear and beautiful representation of nature. 

198 




WILSON^S LANDSCAPES 

The sky U admirable for iu pure azure tone. Among the lew 
finished produciioDS of WileoD'a pcDcU, which display his great 
knowledge of perspective, are W landscape vfi/h _/^r« haihmgt in 
which the figures are wonderfully detached from the fica beyond ; 
and j1 yiew in Jtaly^ with a lake and a little boat, which appear 
at an inuneaturablc distance below : — the boat it diminished to 

* A buoy almost too small for «ght.' 

j1 l^iew of ^ncona\ jit/rian'i fl//a at Rome; a small blue greenish 
landscape ; The Late of Neimi ; a small, richly-coloured landscape of 
the banks ol a river ; and a landscape containing some light and 
elegant groups of trees, are masterly and interesting sketches. .// /''i««' 
on the Tiherj near Rome, a dark landscape which lies finely open to 
the sky ; and y/ I'^ietu of Rome ^ arc successiiil imitations of N. Poussin. 
A F'irw ofSion Houie^ which is hung almost out of sight, is remark- 
able for the clearness of the perspective, particularly in the distant 
windings of the River Thames, and still more so for the parched and 
droughty appearance of the whole scene. The air is adust, the grass 
burned up and withered : and it sccma as if »omc figures, reposing on 
the level, smooth shAveo lawn on the river's side, would be annoyed 
by the parching heat of the ground. We consider this landscape, 
which is an old favourite, as one of the most striking proofs of 
Wilson's genius, as it conveys not only the image, but the feeling of 
oature, and excites a new interest unborrowed from the eye, like 
the fine glow of a summer's day. There is a sketch of the same 
subject, called /I f^ieiv on the Thames. 

j1 Fiew near L.langollen^ North fP^aier ; Oakhampton Castle^ Devtm- 
jhlre i and The Bri4ge at IJangoilm^ are the principal of Wilson's 
English landscapes. They want almost every thing that ought to re- 
commend them. The subjects are not fit for die landscape-painter, and 
there is nothing in the execution to redeem them. lEl-shapcd moun- 
tains, or great heaps of earth, trees that grow against them without 
character or elegance, motionless water-falls, a want of relief, of trans- 
parency, and distance, — without the imix>Bing grandeur of real magnitude 
(which it is either not within the province of the art to give, or which 
Is certainly not given here), are the chief features and defects of these 
pictures. — The same general objections apply to SoTttude^ and to one 
or two pictures near it, which are masses of common-place confusion. 
In near scenes, the eFect must dejiend almost entirely on thedifference 
in the execution, and the details : for the difference of colour alone 
is not sufficient to give relief to objects placed at a small distance 
from the eye. But in Wilson there are commonly no deuils ; all is 
loose and general ; and this very circumstance, which assisted htm 

199 



WILSON'S LANDSCAPES 



ID giving the massy contrasts of light aod shade, depnred his peocil 
of all force and precisioD within a limited space. In general, air 
is necessary to the I and scape-painter : and for this reason, the lakes 
of Cumberland and Westmoreland atFord few subjects for landscape- 
painting. Howe\'er stupendous the aceoery of that country is, and 
howerer powerful aod lasting the impression which it must always 
make on the imagination, yet the efrect is not produced merely 
through the eye of the spectator, but arises chiefly from collateral 
and associated feelings. There is the knowledge of the distance 
from which we have seen the objects, in the midst of which we are 
DOW placed, — the slow, improgreasive motion which we make m 
traversing them, — the abrupt precipice, — the torrent's roar, — the 
dizzy rapture and boundless expanse of the prospect from the highest 
mountain^,— the difficulty of their ascent, — their loneliness, and 
silence; — in short, there is a consunt sense and superstitious awe 
of the collcctirc power of matter, of the gigantic and eternal forms 
of nature, on which from the beginning of time the hand of man has 
made no impression, and which by the lofty reflections they excite tn 
him, give a sort of intellectual sublimity even to his sense of physical 
weakness. But there is little in all these circumstances that can be 
translated into the picturesque, which depends not on the objects 
themselves, so much as on the symmetry and relation of these objects 
to one another. In a picture a mountain shrinks to a molehill, and 
the lake that expands its broad bosom to the sky, seems hardly big 
enough to launch a fleet of cocklc-shelU. 

Wilson's historical landscapes, the two Niobtj, Celadon and /ImeRa, 
Mdeagcr and Atalania, do not, in our opinion, deserve the name ; 
that is, they do not excite feelings corresponding with the scene and 
story represented. They neither display true taste nor fine imagina- 
tion ; but are affected and violent exaggerations of clumsy, common 
nature. They are all made up of the same mechanical materials, an 
overhanging rock, bare shattered trees, black rolling clouds, and 
forked lightning. The scene of Celadon and Amelia^ though it may 
be proper for a thunder-storm, is not a place for lovers to walk in. 
The meUagtr and Atalanta is remarkable for nothing but a castle at 
a distance, very much * resembling a goose-pye.' The figures in the 
two other pictures are not like the children of Niobe, punished by the 
Gods, but like a groupe of rustics, crouching from a hail-storm. In 
one of these, however, there is a fine break in the sky worthy of the 
subject. We agree with Sir J. Reynolds, that Wilson's mind waa 
not, like N. Poussin's, sufficiently imbued with the knowledge of 
antiquity to transport the imagination two thousand years back, to 
give natural objects a sympathy with preternatural events, and to 

zoo 



WILSON'S LANDSCAPES 

inform rocke, and treet, a.ad mountainB with the prnrace of i 
God.i 

The writer of the Preface to the Catalogue of the Britbh Gallery, 
■ay« — • Few artists haye excelled Wilson in the tint of air, perhaps 
the most difficult point of attainment for the landscape-painter : every 
object in his pictures keeps its place, because each is seen through its 
proper medium. This exccUtnce aione gives a charm to his pencil, and 
by judicious application may be turned to the advantage of the British 
artist.' — This praise is equivocal : if it be meant that *the tint of air ' 
is the only excellence of Wilson** landscapes, the observation is not 
true. He had also great truth, harmony, and richness of local 
colouriog : he had a hne feeling of the proportions and conduct of 
light and shade ; and, in general, an eye for gracefiil form, as far as 
regards the bold and varying outlines ot indefinite objects — as may be 
Been in his foregrounds, hills, etc. — where the mind is left to chusc 
according to an abstract principle, as it is filled or affected agreeably 
by certain combinations, — and is not tied down to an imitation of 
characteristic and articulate forms. In his figures, trees, cattle, 
buildings and in every thing which has a determinate and regular 
form, Wilson's pencil was not only deficient in accuracy of outline, 
but CTcn in perspective and actual relief. His trees, in particular, 
seem pasted on the canvas, like botanical specimens. 

We shall close these remarks with observing, that we cannot 
subscribe to the opinion of those who assert that Wil&on was superior 
to Claude as a man of genius : nor can we discern any other grounds 
for this opinion, than those which lead to the general conclusion, that 
the more slovenly the performance, the finer the picture; and that 
that which is imperfect is superior to that which is perfect. It might 
at well be said, that a sign-painting is better than the reflection of a 
landscape in a mirror; and the only objection that can be made in 
the latter cabc cannot be made to the landscapes of Claude, for in 
them the Graces themselves have, with their own hands, assisted in 
disposing and selecting every object. — Is the general effect in his 
pictures injured by the details ? Is the truth inconsistent with the 
beauty of the imitation ? Are the scope and harmony of the whole 
destroyed by the exquisite delicacy of every part? Does the 



* The facet of N. Poiusin wKiit cxpreHJon, m his figatei WMOt grtcc ; but the 
Untlscspe pirt of hit historical compotitioiu vria never lurpatied. In hit pU|[ae of 
Atheni the buildinga lecm tx'iff with horror. Hit Oiaatt tcited on the topi of 
their fablc'l mountains, and pliytog on their Pao't pipes are at natural ind famitiir 
u * tilty fhephrr'li sitting tn a row.* The Bncil of hit Undiaipe* it hit picture 
of the Deloge. The tun u just teen wan aod rlrooping in bit courte, the tky it 
bowed down with t weight of watert, and heaven and earth icetn commin idling. 

201 



GAINSBOKOUGH'S PICTURES 

perpetual profiuion of objects aBd Bceoery, all peHect in themBelret, 
interfere with the simple grandeur, and inimease extent of the whole? 
Does the precision with which a plant is marked in the foreground, 
take away from the air-drawn dininctions of the blue, glimmering 
distant horizon ? Is there any want of that endless airy space^ where 
the eye wanders at liberty under the open sky, explores distant 
objects, and returns back as from a deitghtfril journey ? There is 
no coroparisoD between him and Wilson. The landscapes of Claode 
hare all that is exquisite and refined in art and natore. Every thing 
is moulded into grace and harmony ; and at the touch of his pencil, 
shepherds with their flocks, temples and groves, and winding glades^ 
and scattered hamlets, rise up in never-ending succession, under the 
azure iky, and the resplendent sun, * while universal Pan, 

' Knit with the Gncci, and the boun in dance 
Leads on the eternal spring.' — 

There U a Ane apostrophe in a sonnet of Michael Angeto's to the 
earliest Poet of Italy : 

* Fain would I to be what our Dante was, 
Forego the happiest fortunes of mankind ;* 

What landscape-painter does not feel this of Claude! * 



ON GAINSBOROUGH'S PICTURES 

Tit a»mpim.) [Uly 31,1814. 

Tkiri is »n anecdote connected with the reputation of Gainsborough's 
Pictures, which rests on pretty good authority. Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
at one of the Academy dinners, s{>caking of Gainsborough, said to a 
friend, * He is undoubtedly the best English landscape-painter.' 
'No,' said Wilson, who overheard the conversation, 'he's not the 
best Kngliah landscape-painter, but he is the best portrait- painter in 
England.' They were certainly both wrong; but the story is 
creditable to the variety of Gainsborough's talents. 

Of his portraiu, in the present collection at the British Gallery, 
the only fine one is y1 Portrait of a Touth. This picture is from 
Lord Grofvenor'i collection, where it used to look remarkably well, 
and has been sometimes mistaken for a Vandyke. There is a spirited 
glow of youth about the face, and the attitude is striking and elegant. 

' Th* ttMAtt li refrrred to sn elegant snd beautiful i]««cripLlon of CUu<ie, in 
Mr. Nufthcotc'i Dfeim of g Painter. 
103 



GAINSBOROUGH'S PICTURES 



The drapery of blue satin is admirably painted. The Portrmt of 
Garriti is interesting as a piece of biography. He looks much more 
like a gentleman than in ReynoldK's tragi<omic representation of him. 
— There is a considerable lightness and intelligence in the expression 
of the face, and a piercing vivacity about the eycB» to which the 
attention is immediately directed. Gainsborough's own poruait, 
which bat, however, much truth and character, and makes a fine 
print, seems to have been painted with the handle of his brush. 
There is a portrait of 7j?v Prince Regent ieaSn^ a horte^ in which it 
must be confessed the man has the advantage of the animal. 

Gainsborough's landscapes are of two classes, or periods ; his early 
and his later pictures. The former are, we imagine, the best. They 
arc imitations of nature, or of painters who imitated nature ; — such as 
a Woody Scene; another, which is a fine imitation of Ruysdale ; and 
a Road SicUf •with Jiguretf which has great truth and clearness. His 
later pictures are Himsy caricatures of Rubens, who himself carried 
inattention to accuracy of detail to the utmost limit that it would bear. 
Lord Bacon says, that * distilled books arc, like distilled waters, 
I 6ashy things.' The same may be said q^ pictures. — Gainsborough's 
^ Utter landscapes are bad water-colour drawings, washed in by 
' mechanical movements of the hand, without any communication with 
the eye. The truth seems to be, that Gainsborough found there 
was something wanting in bis *early manner* — that is, something 
beyond mere literal imitation of natural objects, and he seems to have 
concluded, rather hastily, that the way to arrive at that tomething more, 
I was to discard truth and nature altogether. He accordingly ran from 
one extreme into the other. We cannot conceive anything carried to 
a greater excess of slender execution and paltry glaziog, than A Fox 
hunted tvith grey-bounds^ A romantic Landjeape tvith Shetp at a 
Fountain, and many others. We were, however, much pleased with 
an upright landscape, with figures, which has a fine, fresh appearance 
of the open sky, with a dash of the wildness of Salvator Rosa; and 
also with A Bank of a River, which is remarkable for the elegance 
of the forms and the real delicacy of the execution. A Group 
of Cattle in a •warm Landscape is an evident imitation of Rubens, 
but no more like to Rubens than * I to Hercules.' Landscape with a 
Waterfall should t>e noticed for the sparkling clearness of the 
distance. Sportsmen in a Landscape is copied from Teniers with 
much taste and feeling, though very inferior to the original picture 
in Lord Radnor's collection. 

Of the fancy pictures, on which Gainsborough's fame chiefly rests, 
we arc disposed to give the preference to his Cottage Children, 
There ift, we apprehend, greater truth, variety, force, and character, 



GAINSBOROUGH'S PICTURES 



in this groupCt (ban in any other. The colouring of the light-haired 
child is particularly true to nature, and forms a sort of natural and 
inooceat contrast to the dark complexion of the elder sister, who it 
carrying it. The Girl gmng la the fVtU is, however, the general 
favourite. The little dog is certainly admirable. His hair looks as 
if it had been just washed and combed. 7^he attitude of the Girl is 
also perfectly easy and natural. But there ib a consciousness in the 
turn of the head, and a M;ntimental pensiveness in the expression, 
which is not uken from nature, but LOtended as an improvement 
on it. There is a regular insipidity, a systematic vacancy, a round, 
unvaried smoolbne&s, to which real nature it a stranger, and which 
is only an idea existing in the painter's mind. We think the 
gloss of art i& never so ill bestowed as on jiubjects of this kind, 
which ought to be studies of natural history. It is perhaps the 
general fault of Gainsborough, that he presents us with an ideal 
common life, whereas it is only the reality that is here good for any 
thing. His subjects are softened and sentimentalised too much, 
it is not simple, unaHected nature that we see, but nature sitting for 
her picture. Gainsborough, we suspect, from some of the pictures in 
this collection, led the way to that masquerade style, which piques 
itself on giving the air of an Adonis to the driver of a hay-cart, and 
models the features of a milk-maid on the principles of the antique. 
The Giri and Ptgs is hardly liable to this objection. There is a 
healthy glow in the girl's face, which Gcems the immediate effect of 
the air blowing upon it. The expression is not quite so good. The 
Fox-dogt are admirable. The young one is even better than ihc old 
one, and has undeniable hereditary pretensions. The Shepherd Boys 
are fine. We do not like the Boyt 'with Dogjjighting. We see no 
reason why the one should be so handsome and the other so ugly, why 
the one should be so brown and the other so yellow, or why their 
dogs should be of the same colour as themselves: nor why the worst- 
looking of the two should be most anxious to part the fray. The 
sketch of the If^oodman, the original of which was unfortimately 
burned, fully justifies all the reputation it has acquired. It is a really 
fine study from nature. There is a picture of Gainsborough's some- 
where of j1 Shepherd Boy in a Storm^ of which we many years ago 
saw an indifferent copy in a broker's shop, but in which the uncon- 
scious simplicity of the boy's expression, looking up with his hands 
folded, and with timid wonder, the noisy chattering of a magpye 
perched above him, and the rustling of the coming storm in the 
branches of the trees, produced a romantic pastoral impression, which 
we hare often recalled with no little pleasure since that time. We 
have always, indeed, felt a strong prepossession in favor of Gains- 
204 



KEMBLE'S PENRUDDOCK 

borough, and were disappointed at not iindiog his pictures in the 
pr«enfcolIecHon, all that we had wished to find them. 

He was to be considered, perhaps, rather as a man of taste, and of 
an elegant and feeling mind, than as a man of genius; aft a lover of 
the art, rather than an artist. He pursued it, with a view to amuae 
and sooth hi* mind, with the rase of a gentleman, not with the 
severity of a profefisional student. He wished to make his pictures, 
like himself, amiable ; but a too constant desire to please almost 
DecesRarily leads to affectation and effeminacy. He wanted that 
rigour of intellect, which perceives the beauty of truth ; and thought 
that painting was to be gained, like other miatresses, by flattery and 
smiles. It is an error which we are disposed to forgive in one, 
aroimd whose memory, both as a man and an artist, many fond 
recollections, many rain regrets must always linger. Peace to his 
•hade'i 



MR. KHMBLE'S PENRUDDOCK 

Mil. Kemble lately appeared at this theatre in the character of 
Penruddock, and was received (not indeed with waving handker- 
chiefs, and laurel garlands thrown on the stage, but what is much 
better) with heartfelt approbation and silent tears. His delineation 
of the part Is one of his most correct and interesting performances, 
and one of the most perfect on the modern stage. The deeply 
rooted, mild, pensive melancholy of the character, its embittered 
recollections and dignified benevolence, were given by Mr. Kemble 
with equal truth, elegance, and feeling. This admirable actor appeared 
to be the unfortunate, but amiable individual whom he represented; 
and the expression of the sentiments, tlie look, the tone of voice, 
exactly true to nature, struck a corre8|K>ndent chord in every bosom. 
— The range of characters, in which Mr. Kemble shines, and is 

* The idea of the ncccitity of timperiog whh nature, or giving what is called a 

mtttring liitnatf vrai utiivereal id thti country fifty yean ago, Thii woultl no 

fdoabt M alwiys e^iy, if the whole of the art contiMcil in leaving out, anJ not 

' putting in, whil ii tu be fuuarj in nature. It may not be intproprr lo add here, 

that, in our opinion, Murillo ia at the head of the cla» of paioten, who have 

treated •uhjecl* of commoa life. There ii tomethinf in hit picture* which ii not 

to be found at all in the pro'lDCtionf of the DntcK ichool. After making the 

coloura on the canvau feel and think, the neat beat thing ii lo make them breathe 

■ad live. But there ia to Murillo'a picturn a look of real life, a cordial flow of 

inimal apiriti, to be met with no where elic. We tnifht here partkolarly refer to 

hi* picture of the Ttiftf SfamiA Beggar-tnyi in Mr, Deacnfana* collection, which 

nonot be forgotten by thote who have ever leen it. 

205 




KEMBLES PENRUDDOCK 



Bu{)erior to every other actor, are those which consiit in the devetope- 
meat of some one sentiment or excluiivc paHioD. From a want of 
rapidity, of scope, and variety, he is often defideot in expressing the 
bustle and complication of different interests, nor docs he possess the 
faculty of overpowering the mind by sudden and irresietible bursts of 
passion. But in giring the habitual workings of a predominant feeling, 
as in Penruddock, Coriolanui, and some others, where all the passioni 
move round a central point, and have one master key, he stands 
unrivalled. In Peoruddock, he broods orer the recollection of 
disappointed hope, till it becomes a part of himself, it sinks deeper 
into hifl mind the longer he dwells upon it, and his whole person is 
moulded to the character. The weight of sentiment which oppresses 
him never seems suspended, the spring at his heart is never lightened^ 
his regrets only become more profound as they become more durable. 
So in Coriolanus, he exhibits the ruling passion with the same 
continued firmness, he preserves the same haughty dignity of 
demeanour, the same energy of will, and unbending sternness of 
temper throughout. He is swayed by a single impulse. His 
tenaciousness of purpose is only irritated by opposition : he turns 
neither to the right nor to the left : but the vehemence with which 
he moves forward increases every iiutant, till it hurries him to the 
catastrophe. In Leontes, in the Winter's Tale, the growing jealousy 
of the king, and the exclusive poisession which it at length obtains 
of his mind, are marked in the finest manner, particularly where he 
exclaims — 

■ Is whispering nothing ? 
U leaning cnetk to check ? is meeting noses * 
KiiKung with Inside lip f stopping the carter 
Of laughter with a sigh, a note infallible 
Of breaking honest)- ? horsing foot on foot f 
Skulking in comers ? wishing clocks more swift? 
Hours minutes ? the noon, midnight ? and all eyes 
Blind with tlie pin and web, but their>j thrirK only 
That would unseen be wicked ? Is this nothing f 
Why then the world and all that 's in *t Is nothing. 
The covering eky is nothing, Bohemia nothing, 
My wife is nothing, if this be nothing,* 

In the course of this enumeration erery proof tells harder, hit 
conviction becomes more rtvettcd at every step of his progress, and 
at the end his mind is wound up to a frenzy of despair. In such 
characters, Mr. Kemble has no occasion to call in the resources of 
invention, or the tricks of the art; his excellence consists entirely in 
the increasing intensity with which he dwells on a given feeling or 
106 



KEMBLE^S PENRUDDOCK 

enforce* a predominant passion. In Hamlet, on the contrary, Mr. 
Kcmble uoaroidably fails from a want of flexibility, or of that quick 
sensibility, which yields to every motive, and is borne away with 
every breath of fancy, which is distracted by the multiplicity of its 
reflections, and lost in its own purposes. There is a perpetual undula- 
tion of feeling in the character of Hamlet (though it must be 
coofeased, much of this, which is the essence of the play, is left out 
on the stage), but in Mr. Kemble's acting 'there is no variableness 
nor shadow of turning.' He plays it like a man in armour, with a 
determined inveteracy of purpose, in one undcviating strait line, 
which is as remote from the natural grace and easy susceptibility of 
tiie character, as the sharp angles and abrupt starts to produce an 
effect, which Mr. Kcan introduces into it. Mr. Kean's Hamlet is, 
in our opinion, as much too 'splenetic and rash,* as Mr. Kemble's is 
too deliberate and formal. In Richard, Mr. Kemble has not that 
tempest and whirlwind of the passions, that life and spirit, and 
dazzling rapidity of motion, which, as it were, fills the stage, and 
bums io every part, which Mr. Kean displayed in it till he was worn 
out by the managers. Mr. Kean's acting, in general, strongly 
reminds us of the lines of the poet, when he describes 

* The fiery soul that working out its way 
Fretted the pigmy body to decay. 
And o'erinformed the tenement of clay.* 

Mr. Kemble^s inanner on the contrary has always something dry, 
bard and pedantic in it, * You shall relish him more in the scholar 
than the soldier/ But his monotony does not ^itiguc, his formality 
does not displease, because there is always sense and feeling in what 
he does. The fineness of Mr. Kemhlc^s ligure has {>erhaps led to 
that sutue-like appearance which his acting is sometimes too apt to 
assume; as the diminutivcness of Mr. Kean's person has probably 
forced him to buatle about too much, and to attempt to make up for 
the want of dignity of form by the violence and contrast of his 
attitudes. If Mr. Kemble were to remain in the same posture for 
half an hour, his figure would only produce admiration — if Mr. Kean 
were to stand still only for a moment, the contrary effect would be 
produced. 

To return to Pcnruddock and the Wheel of Fortune. The only 
novelties were Miss Fooie in Emily Tempest, and her lover, Mr. 
Farley, as Sir David Daw. The latter, who is a Welch Adonis of 
five and twenty, from the natural advantages of his person, and the 
artihcial improvements which were added to it, was a very admirable 
Hkeness, on a reduced scale, of the Prince Regent. We do not know 

207 



U*- •• '>. 



SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS S DISCOURSES 

whether the burlesque was intended, but it had a laughable effect* 
We acknowledge that Mr. Farley is one of those persons whom we 
always welcome heartily when we eee him. What with laughing at 
him and laughing with him, we hardly know a more comic personage. 
MiBs Foote played and looked the part of Emily Tempest very 
naturally and rery prettily, but without givmg to the charaaer either 
much interest or much elegance. Her voice is in itself as gweet as 
her perfton, and when she exerts it, she articulates with ease and 
clearness: but we should add, that she has a habit of tripping in her 
common speaking, that is, of dropping her voice so low, except where 
a particular emphasis is to be laid, as to make it difGcnlt for the ear to 
follow the sense. 



INTRODUCTION TO AN ACCOUNT OF SIR 
JOSHUA REYNOLDS'S DISCOURSES 

TAm CJiamfiiea,] [/</». 27, 1814. 

The general merit of these Discourses is so well established that it 
would be needless to enlarge on it here. The graces of the composi- 
tion are tnich, that scholars have been led to suspect that it was the 
style of Burke (the first prose-writer of our time) carefully subdued, 
and softened down to perfection : and the taste and knowledge of the 
subject displayed in them are ao great, that this work has been, by 
common consent, considered as a text-book on the subject of art, in 
our English school of painting, ever since its publication. Highly 
elegant and valuable as Sir Joshua's opinions are, yet tliey are 
liable [so it appears to us) to various objections; and it becomes 
more important to state these objections, because, as it generally 
happens, the most questionable of his precepts are those which have 
been the most eagerly adopted, and carried into practice with the 
greatest success. The errors, if they are such, which we shall 
attempt to point out, are not casrual, but systematic. There is a fine- 
spun metaphysical theory, either not very clearly understood, or not 
very correctly expressed, pervading Sir Joshua's reasoning; and 
which appears to have led him in several of the most important points 
to conclusions, cither false or only true in pari.^ The rules thus laid 
down, as general and comprehensive maxims, are in fact founded on 
a set of half principles, which are true only as far as they imply 
a negation of the opposite errors, but contain in themselves the germ 
of other errors just as fatal : which, if strictly and literally understood, 

' This theory will be found cootitned in Richardion'i £u«y on Piinting, sad 
in Cnypel'i Ditcourtci lo tbi French Academy. 
208 



SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS^S DISCOURSES 



cannot be defended, and which by being taken in an eouiTOcal sense, 
of course leave the student as much to seek as ever. The English school 
of painting is uoivcrsally reproached by foreigners with the slovenly 
and uniinished state in which they &cnd iheir productions into the 
world, with their ignorance of academic rules and neglect of the 
subordinate details ; in other words, with aiming at effui only in all 
their works of art : and though it is by no means necessary t!hat we 
should adopt the defects of the French and German painters, yei we 
might learn from them to correct our own. There was no occafiion 
to encourage our constitutional indolence and impatience by positive 
rules, or to incorporate our vicioua habits into a system. Or if our 
defect* were to be retained, at least they ought to have been tolerated 
only for the sake of certain collateral and characteristic excelleoctes 
out of which they might be thought to spring. Thus a certain degrev 
of precision or regularity might be sacrificed rather than impair that 
boldness, rigour, and originality of conception, in which the strength 
of the national genius might be supposed to lie. Bat the method of 
instruction pursued in the Discourses seems calculated for neither of 
these objects. Without endeavouring to overcome our habitual 
defects, which might be corrected by proper care and study, it damps 
our zeal, ardour, and enthusiasm. It places a full reliance neither on 
art nor nature, but consists in a kind of fastidious tampering with 
both. Both genius and industry are put out of countenance in turn. 
The height of invention is made to consist in compiling from others, 
and the perfection of imitation in not copying from nature. We lose 
the substance of the art in catching ai a shadow, and are thought to 
embrace a cloud for a Goddess ! 

That we may not seem to prejudge the question, we shall state at 
once, and without further preface, the principal points tn the Dis- 
courses which we deem either wrong in themselves, or liable to mis- 
conception and abuse. They are the following: — 

I . That genius or invention consists chiefly in borrowing the ideas of 
Others t or m using other nun's minds. 

Z. That the great style tn painting depends on leaving out the details of 
particular oljecis, 

3. That the essence of portrait consists in giving the g^ter a/ character, 
rather than the individual llleness. 

4. That the essence of history consists in abstracting front individuality 
of character and expression as much as possible. 

5. That beauty or ideal perfection consists in a central form. 

6. Thai to imitate nature ij a very inferior object in art. 

AU of these positions appear to require a separate consideration, 
which we shall give them in the following articles on this subject. 
VOL. XI. : o 209 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



Til CAamfim.] 



[Dtcemhtf 4. 1814 



It is a leading and favourite position of the Discourses that genin* 
and inveatioD are principally shewQ in borrowiog the ideas, and 
imitating the exccUeaces of oihcrk. Differing entirely from those 

* who have undertaken to write on the art of painting, and have 
represented it as a Icind of intpiratioiif as a ^ifi bestowed upon peculiar 
favourites at their birth/ Sir Joshua proceeds to add, ' I am, on the 
contrary, persuaded, that by imtution only,* (that is, of former 
masters,) * variety and even originality of invention is produced. I 
will go further ! even genius, at least what is generally called so, U 
the child of imitation.' * There can be no doubt but that he who has 
most materials has the greatest means of invention ; and if he has not 
the power of using them, it inut>t procred from a fceblenew of intellect/ 

* Study is the art of using other men's minds.' * It is from Rapbaers 
having taken so many models, that he became himself a model for all 
succeeding painters ; always imitating, and always original.* Vol. i. 
p. I $1, 159, 169, &c. All that Sir Joshua says on this subject, is 
either vague and contradictory, or has an evident bias the wrong way. 
That genius cither consists in, or is in any proportion to, the know- 
ledge of what others have done, in any branch of art or science, is a 
pradox which hardly admits serioufi refutation. The answer ifi 
indeed so obvious and so undeniable, that one is almost ashamed to 
give it. As it happens in all such cases, an advantage is taken of the 
old-fashioned simplicity of truth to triumph over it. It is another of 
Sir Joshua's theoretical opinions, often repeated, and almost as often 
retracted in his lectures, that there is no such thing as genius in the 
first formation of the human mind. That is not the question here, 
though perhapc we may recur to it. But, however a man may come 
by the iaculty which we call gemujt whether it is the effect of habit 
and circamatanccE, or the gift of nature, yet there can be no doubt, 
that what is meant by the term, is a power of original observation and 
invention. To take it otherwise, is a solecism in language, and a 
misnomer in art. A work demonstrates genius exactly as it conuins 
what is to be found no where else, or in proportion to what we add 
to the ideas of others from our own stores, and not to what we receive 
from them. It may contain also what is to be found in other works, 
but it is not that which stamps it with the character of genius. The 
contrary view of the question can only tend to deter those who have 
genius from using it, and to make those who are without genius, think 
they have u. It is attempting to excite the mind to the highest efforts 

310 



I 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



of intellectual excelteoce, by denying the chief ground-work of all 
intellectual distinction. It is from the same general spirit ot distruit 
of the existence or power of genius that Sir Joshua exclaims with 
confidence and triumph^ ' There is one precept, howerer, in which 
I shall only be opposed by the vain* the ignorant, and the idle. I am 
not afraid that 1 shall repeat it too often. You must have no 
OEPENDENCB OM YOUR QWH ciNius. Ifyou have gftat talenu, industry 
will improve them. If you have but moderate abilities, it will supply 
their deficiency. Nothing is denied to well directed labour; nothing 
can be obtained without it. Not to enter into metaphysical discussions 
on the nature and essence of genius, 1 will venture to assert, that 
assiduity unabated by difficulty, and a disposition eagerly directed to 
the object of its pursuit, will produce effects similar to those which 
some call the re juh of natural po'OicrsJ P, 44,45. ^*' *** \\\.\Xt 
influence had the mcuphysical theory, which he wished to hold in 
/rmrrrm over the young enthusiast, on Sir Joshua's habitual unreSccting 
good sense, that he afterwards, in speaking of the attainments of Carlo 
Mararti, which, as well as those of Raphael, he attributes to his 
imitation of others, says, * It is true there is nothing very captivating 
in Carlo Maratti ; but this proceeded from a want which cannot be 
completely supplied, that is, 'want of ttrcngth of parts. In this^ certain/yt 
men are not equal ; and a man can bring home wares only in proportion 
to the capital with which he goes to market- Carlo, by diligence, made 
the most of what he had : but there was undoubtedly a heaviness about 
him, which extended itself uniformly to his invention, expression, his 
drawing, colouring, and the general effect of his pictures, The truth 
is, be never equalled any of his patterns in any one thing, and he added 
little of his own. ' P. 1 7 2 . Poor Carlo, it seems, then, was excluded 
from the benefit of the sweeping clause in this general charter of dulness, 
by which all men are declared to be equal in natural powers, and to 
owe their superiority only to superior industry. What is here said 
of Carlo Maratti is, however, an exact description of the fate of all 
those, who, without any genius of their own, pretend to avail them- 
selves of the genius of others. Sir Joshua attempts to confound 
genius and the want of it together, by shewing, that some men of 
great genius have not diadaiocd to borrow largely from their pre- 
decessors, while others, who affected to be entirely original, have 
really invented little of their own. This is from the purpose. If 
Raphael, for instance, had only copied his figure of St. Paul from 
Massacio, or his groupe, in the sacrifice of Lystra, from the ancient 
bas-relief, without adding other figures of equal force and beauty, he 
would have been considered as 3 mere plagiarist. As it is, the 
piaurcs here referred to, would undoubtedly have displayed more 

ait 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



gcnitu, that ii, raore origioAlity, if those figure* had also been hU 
own intention. Nay, Sir Joshua himself, in giving the preference of 
genius to Michael AJigclo, does it on this very ground, that ' Michael 
Angelo'a works seem to proceed from his own mind entirely, and 
that mind so rich and abundant, that he never needed, or seemed to 
disdain to look abroad for foreign help ; ' whereas, * Raflfaelle's 
materials arc generally borrowed, though the noble structure is hU 
own.' On the justice of this last statement, we shall remark 
presently. Perhaps Reynolds's general account of the insignilicance 
of genius, and the all-sufficiency of the merits of others, may be 
looked upon as an indirect apology for the gradual progress of his 
own miiid, in selecting and appropriating the beauties of the great 
artists who went before hini : he appears anxious to describe atid 
dignify the process, from which he himself derived such felicitous 
results, but which, as a general system of instruction, can only 
produce mediocrity and imbecility. It is a lesson which a well-bred 
drawing-master might with great propriety repeat by rote to his 
fashionable pupils, but which a learned professor, whose object wai 
to lead the aspiring mind to the heighu of fame, ought not to have 
offered to the youth of a nation. • You must have do dependence on 
your own genius,* is, according to Sir Joshua, the universal founda- 
tion of all high endeavours, the beginning of all true wisdom, and the 
end of ail true art. Would Sir Joshua have given this advice to 
Michael Angelo, or to Raphael, or to Correggio? Or would he 
have given it to Rembrandt, or Rubens, or Vandyke, or Claude 
Lorraine, or to our own Hogarth ? Would it have been followed, 
or what would have been the conse<]uence, if it had i — That we should 
never have heard of any of these personages, or only heard of them as 
instances to prove that nothing great can be done without genius and 
originality ! Wc are at a loss to conceive where, upon the principle 
here stated, Hogarth would have found the materials of his Marriage 
a la Mode ? or Rembrandt bis Three Trees i or Claude Lorraine his 
Enchanted Castle, with that one simple figure in the foreground, — 
* Sole sitting by the shores of old romance ? * 

Or from what but an eye always intent on nature, and brooding over 
'beauty, rendered still more beautiful' by the exquisite feeling with 
which it was contemplated, did he borrow his verdant landscapes and 
his azure skies, the bare sight of which wafts the imagination to 
Arcadian scenes, * thrice happy fields, and groves, and Bowery vales,' 
breathing perpetual youth and freshness ? If Claude had gone out to 
study on Uie banks of the Tybcr with Sir Joshua's first precept in 
hii rooutht * Individual nature produces little beauty,* and had 

113 



I 



I 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



recurned poring OTcr the second, which is like unto it, * You must 
have no dependence on your own genius,' the world would have lost 
one perfect painter.^ Rubens would hare shared the same fate, with 
all his train of fluttering Cupids, warriors and prancing steeds, 
panthers and piping Bacchanals, nymphs, fawns and satyrs, if he had 
not been reserved for *the tender mercies' of the modern French 
critics, David and his pupils, who think that the Luxembourg gallery 
ought to be destroyed, to make room for their own execrable per- 
formances. Or we should never have seen that fine landscape of his 
in the Louvre, with a rainbow on one side, the whole face of nature 
refreshed after the shower, and some shepherds under a group of 
trees piping to their heedless flocks ^^ instead of painting what he 
saw and what he felt to be fine, he had set himself to solve the 
learned riddle proposed by Sir Joshua, whether accidrntt in nature 
should be introduced in landscape, Gtnce Claude has rejected them. 
It is well that genius gets the start of criticism ; for if these two 
great landscape painters, not being privileged to consult their own 
taste and inclinations, had been compelled to wait till the rules of 
criticism had decided the preference between their different styles, 
instead of having both, we should have had neither. The folly of all 
such comparisons consists in supposing that we are reduced to a single 
alternative in our choice of excellence, and the true answer to the 
question, 'Which do you like best, Rubens's landscapes or Claude's?' 
IB the one which was giyen on another occasion — both. If tt be 
meant which of the two an artist should imitate, the answer Is, the 
one which he is likely to imitate best. As to Rembrandt, hf would 
not have stood the least chance with thiu new theory of art. But 
the warning Rounds, • you must have no dependence on your own 
geoius,' never reached him in the little study where he watched the 
dim shadows cast by his dying embers on the wall, or at other times 
saw the clouds driven before the storm, or the blaze of noon-day 
brightness bursting through his casement on the mysterious gloom 
which surrounded him. What a pity that his old master could not 
have received a friendly hint from Sir Joshua, that getting rid of his 
vulgar musty prejudices, he might have set out betimes for the regions 
of virtu^ have scaled the ladder of taste, have measured the antique, 
lost himself in the Vatican, and after 'wandering through dry places, 
Mcking he knew not what, and finding nothing,' have returned home 

' This piintcr'i book of sttidie* from nature, commonly cilled Lih<r VtriMit^ 
diiprovei the tnith of Sir Jothua'i auumption, that hi> tandicapci arc mere 
geoenl contpoiitiont, for the finishcil picture! arc nearly fac-simile* of the ori^toal 
■ketche*, lod what i* added to them in point of regularity (ifthii addition waa any 
advantage) was at leait the reiult of hit own geniut. 

313 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



aa great a critic and painter a« so maoy others have done! Of 
Titian^ Vandyke, or Corrcggio we shall say nothing here» aa we have 
said so much in another place. 

A theory, then, by which these great artists could have been lost 
to themselves and to the art, and which explains away the two chief 
supports and sources of all art, nature and genhtsy into an unintelligible 
jargon of words, cannot be intrinsically true. The principles thus 
laid down may be very proper to conduct the machinery oi a royal 
academy, or to precede the distribution of prizes to the students, or 
to be the topics of assent and congratulation among the members 
themselves at their annual exhibition dinner : but they arc so far 
from being calculated to foster geniuH or to direct its course, that 
they can only blight or mislead it, wherever it exists, and * lose more 
men of talents to this nation,' by the dissemination of false principles, 
than have been already lost to it by the want of any. 

But it may be said, that though the perfection of portrait or laiut- 
scape may be derived from the immediate study of nature, yet higher 
subjects are not to be found in it ; that there we must raise our 
imaginations by referring to artificial models ; and that Raphael was 
compelled to go to Michael Angelo and (he antique. Not to insist 
that Michael Angelo himself, according to Sir Joshua's account, 
formed an exception to this rule, it has been well observed on this 
statement, that what Raphael borrowed was to conceal or supply his 
natural deficiencies : what he excelled in was his own. Raphael 
never had the grandeur of form of Michael Angelo, nor the correct- 
ness of form of the antique. His expression was perfectly different 
from both, acd perhaps better than either, certainly better than what 
we have seen of Michael Angelo in the prints from him compared 
with those from Raphael in the Vatican. In Raphael's faces, par- 
ticularly his women, the expression is superior to the form ; in the 
antique statues, the form is evidently the principal thing. The 
interest which they excite is in a manner external, it depends on a 
certain grace and lightness of appearance, joined with exquisite 
symmetry and refined susceptibility to voluptuous emotions, but there 
is no pathos; or if there is, it is the pathos of present and physical 
distress, rather than of sentiment. There is not that deep internal 
interest which there is in Raphael ; which broods over the suggestions 
of the heart with love and fear till the tears seem ready to gush out, 
but that they are checked by the deeper sentiments of hope and faith. 
What has been remarked of Leonardo da Vinci, is still more true of 
Raphael, that there is an angelic sweetness and tenderness in his 
faces peculiarly adapted to his subjects, in which natural frailty and 
passion are purified by the sanctity of religion. They answer exactly 

214 



ON GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY 



to Milton's description of the 'human face dirine.* The ancient 
statues are tiner objects for the eye to contemplate : they represent a 
more perfect race of physical bcincs, but we have no eympathy with 
them. In Raphael, all our natural sensibilities are raised and refined 
by pointing mysteriously to the interests of another world. The 
same intensity of passion appears also to distinguish Raphael from 
Michael Aogelo. Michael Angclo's forms are grander, but they are 
not BO full of expression. Raphael'e, however ordinary in them- 
•elves, are full of expression even to oVrflowing: every nerve aixl 
muscle is impregnated with feeling, or bursting with meaning. In 
Michael Angelo, on the contrary, the powers of body and mind 
appear superior to any events that can happen to them, the capacity 
of thought and feeling is never full, never tasked or strained to the 
utmost that it will bear. All is in a lofty repo&e and solitary 
grandeur which no human interests can shake or disturb. It has 
been said that Michael Angelo painted man, and Raphael mfn ; that 
the one was an epic, the other a dramatic painter. But the distinction 
we have made is perhaps truer and more intelligible, vrz. that the 
former gave greater dignity of form, and the latter greater force and 
refinement of expression. Michael Angelo borrowed his style from 
sculpture, which represented in general only single figures, (with 
subordinate accompanimenta, ) and had not to express the conflicting 
actions and passions of a multitude of persons. He is much more 
picturesque than Raphael. The whole Hgure of his Jeremiah droops 
aad hangs down like a majestic tree surcharged with showers. His 
dnwing of the human ligure has all the characteristic freedom and 
boldness of Titian's landscapes.^ 

To return to Sir .loshua. He has given one very strange proof 
that there is no such thing as genius, namely, that ^the degrees of 
excellence which proclaims genius is different. ^ different times and 
places.' If Sir Joshua had aimed at a confutation of himself, he 
could not have done it more effectually. For what is it that makes 
the ditference but that which originates in a man's self, i.e., is first 
done by him, is genius, and when it is no longer original, but 
borrowed from former examples, it ceases to be genius, since no one 
can establish this claim by following the steps of others, but by going 
before them ? The test of genius may be different, but the thing 
itself is the same, — a power at all times to do or to invent what has 
not before been done or invented. It ta plain from the passage 

* Sir Joihui coniideri it a> a great ditailvantagc to K^phafl in •tu'tying from 
the antique, that he hkd not the factlitici affotileJ by moiicrn prir>ti, but wai 
forced to seek out, adiI copy them one by one with great care. Wc ihould be 
disposed to reverte tbia concluaion. 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 

abovr cited what inflo^ncrd Sir Joshua's mind in his views on this 
subject. He quarrelled with genius from being annoyed with 
premature pretensions to it. He was apprehensive that if genius 
were allowed to stand for any thing, industry would go for nothing in 
the mindfl of *the Tain, the ignorant, and the idle.' But as genius 
will do little without labour in an art so mechanical as painting, so 
labour will do still less without genius. Indeed, wherever there is true 
genius, there will be true labour, that is, the exertion of that geniut 
in the iicld most proper for it. Sir Joshua, from his unwillingness to 
admit one extreme, has fallen into the other, and has mistaken the 
detection of an error for a demonbtration of the truth. * The human 
understanding,' says Luther, •resembles a drunken clown on horw- 
back ; if you set it up on one side, it rumbles over on the other.* 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 

Tk* Chtmp'fK,'] [Dt<rmh€r 15, 1S14. 

The imitation of nature is the great object of art. Of course, the 

ftrinciples by which this imitation should he regulated, form the 
eading topic of Sir Joshua Reynolds's lectures. It is certain that 
the mechanical imitation of individual objecta, or the parts of indivi- 
dual objects, does not always produce beauty or grandeur ; or, 
generally tcpeaking that the tvhoh of art doet not consist in copyir^ 
nature. Reynolds seems hence disposed to infer, that the whole of 
art consists in not imitating individual nature. This is also an errof) 
and an error on the worst side. 

Sir Joshua's general system may be summed up in two words, — 
* '/Ufat l/jr great jtyfe in painting comisli m avoiding the detaUs^ and 
pecufiarities of particular ohjeets.^ This sweeping principle he applici 
almost indiscriminately to portrait, history, and landscape; — and he 
appears to have been led to the conclusion itself, from supposing the 
imitation of particulars to be inconsistent with general truth and effiect. 

It will not be unimportant to inquire how far this opinion is well- 
founded : for it appears to us, that the highest perfection of the art 
depends, not on the separation, but on the union (as far as possible) 
of general truth and effect with individual distinctness and accuracy. 

First, it is said that the great style in painting, as it relates to the 
immediate imitation of external nature, consists in avoiding the details 
of particular objects. 

It consists neither in giving nor avoiding them, but in somethingi 
quite different from both. Any one may avoid the details. So far« * 
there is no difference between the Cartoona, and a common sign- 

216 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 



painting. Greatnett coiuitti in giving the larger masses and propor- 
tion* with truth ; — this doe* not prerent giring the fmaller one* too. 
The amoit grandeur of outline, and the broadest masiei of light and 
shade, are perfectly compatible with the greatest minuteness and 
delicacy of detail, t& may be seen to nature. It is not, indeed, 
common to »ec both qiulities combined tn the imitations of nature, 
any more than the combination of other excellence* ; nor are we here 
saying to which the principal attention of the artist should be 
directed ; but we deny, that, considered in thcmaelTeft, the absence 
of the one quality is necessary or sufficient to the production of 
the other. 

If, for example, the form of the eye-brow is correctly given, it 
will be perfectly indifferent to the truth or grandeur of the design, 
whether it consist of one broad mark, or ii composed of a number 
of hair-line«, arranged in the same order. So, if the lights and 
shades are disposed in fine and large masses, the breadth of the 
picture, as it is called, cannot possibly be affected by the filling up 
of tho«e mattes with the details ; — that is, with die subordinate 
distinctions which appear in nature. The anatomical details in 
Michael Angelo, the ever-varying outline of Raphael, the perfect 
execution of the Greek statues, do not assuredly destroy their 
symmetry or dignity of form ; — aixl in the Gnest specimens of the 
composition of colour, we may observe the largest masses combined 
with the greatest variety in the parts, of which tho»e ma»6es are 
composed. 

The gross style consists in giving no details, — iht Jhncal in giving 
oothing else. Nature contains both large and small parts, — both 
masses and details ; and the same may be said of the most perfect 
works of art. The union of both kinds of excellence, of strength 
with delicacy, as far an the limits of human capacity and the short- 
ness of human life would permit, is that which h<iB established the 
reputation of the greatest masters. Farther, — their most finished 
works are their best. The predominance, however, of either excel- 
lence in these masters, has, of course, varied according to their 
opinion of the relative value of these different qualities, — the labour 
they had the time or patience to bestow on their works, — the skill 
of the artist, or the nature and extent of his subject. But, if the 
rule here objected to, — that the careful imitation of the parti 
injnres the effect of the whole, — be at once admitted, slovenliness 
would become another name for genius, and the most unfinished 
performance would necessarily be the best. That such has been 
the confused impression left on the mizxi by the perusal of Sir 
JcMhua's discourses, it evident from the practice as well as the 

*»7 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 

conversation of raany (even eminent) artists. The late Mr* Opie 
proceeded entirely on this principle. He left many admirable 
studies of portraits, particularly in what relates to the disposition 
and eJTect of light and shade. But he never iinished any of the 
parts, thinking them beneath the attention of a great man. rie went 
over the whole head the second day as he had done the day before, 
and therefore made no progress. The picture at last, having neither 
the lightness of a sketch, nor the accuracy of a finished work, looked 
coarse, laboured, and heavy. 

* Would you then have an artist finish like Denncr i ' is the 
triumphant appeal which is made as decisive against all objections. 
To which, as it is an appeal to authority, the proper answer seems to 
bc,^*No; but wc would have him finish like Titian or Corrcgio.' 
Denner is an example of Jinishing not to be followed, but dhunned, 
hcciWhe he did nothing but &thh ', because he finished ill, and because 
he finished to excess ; — Kir in all things there is a certain proportion 
of means to ends. He pored into the littlenesses of objects, till he 
lost sight of nature, instead of imitating it. He represents the human 
face, perhaps, as it might appear through a magnifying-glass, but 
certainly not as it ever appears to us. It is the business of painting 
to express objects as they appear naturally, not as they may be made 
to appear artificially. His ilesh is as blooming and glossy as a flower 
or a shell. Titian's ^nishing, on the contrary, is equally admirable, 
because it is engrafted on the most profound knowledge of effect, 
and attention to the character of what he represents. His pictures 
have the exact look of nature, the very tone and texture of flesh. 
The endless variety of his tints is blended into the greatest simplicity. 
There is a proper degree both of solidity and transparency. All 
the parts hang together : every stroke tells, and adds to the effect of 
the rest. 

To understand the value of any excellence, we must refer to the 
use which has been made of it, not to instances of its abuse. If 
there is a certain degree of ineffectual microscopic linishing, which 
we never find united with an attention to other higher and more 
indispensable parts of the art, we may suspect that there is something 
incompatible between them, and that the pursuit of the one diverts 
the mind from the attainment of the other. But this is the real 
point to stop at — where alone we should limit our theory or our 
efforts. Wherever different excellences have been actually united to 
a certain point of perfection, to that point {abstractedly speaking) we 
are sure that they may, and ought to be united again. There is no 
occasion to add the incitements of indolence, affectation, and false 
theory, to the other causes which contribute to the decline of art ! 

ai8 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 



Sir Joshua fteemfi, indeed, to deny that Titian 6niBhed much» and 
»ays that he produced, by two or three stroke* of his pencil, effecli 
which the most laborious copyists would in vain attempt to equal. 
It is true that he availed himself, in a considerable degree, of what 
i« called executiony to facilitate his imitation of nature, but it was to 
facilitate, not to supersede it. By the methods of scumbling or 
glazing, he often broke the masses of his flesh, — or by laying on 
lumps of colour produced particular effects, to a degree that he could 
not otherwise have reached without considerable loss of time. We 
do not object to execution : it sares labour, and shews a mastery 
both of hand and eye. But then there is nothing more distinct thao 
execution and daubing. Indeed, it t« evident, that the only use of 
execution is to give the details more compendiously, and sometimes, 
eren more happily. Leave out all regard to the dcuils, redace the 
whole into crude unvarying masses, and it becomes totally useless ; 
for these can be given just as well without execution as with it. 
Titian, however, made a very moderate, though a very admirable 
nse of this power; and those who copy his pictures will find, that 
the simplicity is in the results, not in the details. 

The other Venetian painters made too violent a use of execution, 
unless their subjects formed an excu»e for them. Vandyke success- 
fully employed it in giving the last finishing to the details. Rembrandt 
employed it still more, and with more perfect truth of effect. — Rubens 
employed it equally, but not so as to produce an equal redemblance of 
nature. His pencil ran away with his eyt.^ — To conclude our 
observations on this head, we will only add, that while the artist 
thinks that there is any thing to be done, cither to the whole or to the 
parts of his picture, which can give it still more the look of nature, 
if he is willing to proceed, we would not advise him to desist, — This 
rule is stilt more necessary to the young student, for he will relax in 
his attention as he grows older. And again, with respect to the 
subordinate parts of a picture, there is no danger that he will bestow 
a disproportionate degree of labour upon them, because he will not 
feel the same interest in copying them, and because a much less 
degree of accuracy will serve every purpose of deception ; — the 
nicety of our habitual observations being always in proportion to our 
interest in the objects, — Sir Joshua somewhere objects to the attempt 
to deceive by painting ; and his reason ts, that wax-work, which 
deceives most effectually, is a very disagreeable as well as contemptible 
art. It might be answered, first, that nothing is much more unlike 
nature than such figures generally are, and farther, that they only 
produce the appearance of prominence and relief, by having it in 
reality, — in which they are just the reverse of painting. 

319 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 

Secondly, with regard to bxpression, we can haidly agree with Sir 
Joshua thai * the perfection of imitation comittj in giving the general idea 
or cbaracteTt not the peculiaritiei of individuah. — We do not think this 
rule at all well-founded with respect to portrait-painting, nor applic- 
able to history to the extent to which Sir Jovhua carries it. For 
the present, we shall confine ourBeUea to the former of these. 

No doubt, if we were to chuse between the general character and 
the peculiarities of feature, we ought to prefer the former. But they 
are so far from being incompatible with, that they arc not without 
some difhculcy distinguishable from, each other. There i« indeed a 
general look of the face, a predominant cjtprcMion arising from the 
correspondence and connection of the different parts, which it is 
always of the first and last importance to gire ; and without which 
no elaboration of detached parti, or marking of the peculiarity of 
single features, is worth any thing ; but which at the same time, is 
certainly not destroyed, but assisted, by the careful finiBhing, and stiti 
more by giving the exact outline of each part. 

It is on this point that the French and KngHsh schools differ, and 
(in my opinion) are both wrong. The English seem generally to 
suppose, that, if they only leave out the subordinate parts, they are 
sure of the general result. The French, on the contrary, a« idly 
imagine, that by attending to each separate part, they must infallibly 
arrive at a correct whole, — not considering that, besides the prts, 
there is their relation to each other, and the general character stamped 
upon them by the mind itself, which to be seen must be felt, — for it 
is demonstrable that all expression and character are perceived by the 
mind, and not by the eye only. The French painters see only lines, 
and precise differences; — the English only general masses, and strong 
effects. Hence the two nations constantly reproach one another 
with the difTerence of their styles of art ; the one as dry, hard and 
minute, the other as gross, gothic, and unfinished ; and they will 
probably remain for ever satisfied tuith each other's defectt^ which 
afford a very tolerable fund of consolation on either side. 

There is something in the two styles, which arises, perhaps, from 
national countenance as well as character; — the French physiognomy 
is frittered away into a parcel of little moveable compartments and 
distinct signs of intelligence, — like a telegraphic machinery. The 
English countenance, on the other hand, is too apt to sink into a 
lumpish mass, with very few ideas, and those set io a sort of stupid 
stereotype. 

To return to the proper business of portrait-painting. We mean to 

ak of it, not as a lucrative profession, nor as an indolent amusement, 
for we interfere with no man's profits or pleasures), but as a honajide 

220 



spe; 
(To 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 




art, the object of which U to exercise the talents of the artist, and to 
add to the stock of ideas in the puUic. And in this point of view, 
we should imagine that that is the best portiait which contains the 
fiiJIest representation of iDdividuai nature. 

Poruait-painting is the biography of the pencil, and he who gives 
most of the peculiarities and dcuils, with most of the general char* 
acter, — that is of keeplngy — is the best biographer, and the best 
portrait-painter. What if Boswcll (the prince of biographers) had 
not given us the scene between Wilkes and Johnson at Dilly's table, 
or had not introduced the little episode of Goldsmith strutting about 
in his peach-coloured coat after the success of his play, — should we 
have kud a more perfect idea of the general character of those 
celebrated persons from the omission of these particulars I Or if 
Reynolds had not painted the former as * blinking Sam,* or bad given 
01 such a represenution of the latter as we see of some modem poets 
io some modern magazines, the fame of that painter would have been 
confined to the circles of fashion, — where they naturally took for the 
same selection of beauties in a portrait, as of topics in a dedication, 
or a copy of complimentary verses ! 

It has not been uncommon that portraits of this kind, which 
professed to admit all the peculiarities, and to heighten all die 
excellences of a face, have been elevated by ignorance and affectation, 
to the dignitied rank of historical portrait. But in fact they are 
merely caricature trantpot<di that is, as the caricaturist makes a mouth 
wider than it really is, 40 the ]iainter oijiattcring iiienejui (as they 
are termed) makes it not so wide, by a process just as mechanical, 
and more insipid. Instead, however, of objecting captiously to 
common theory or practice, it will perhaps be better to state at once 
our own conceptions of historical portraiu It consists, then, in 
seizing the predominant form or expression, and preserving it with 
truth throughout every part. It is representing the Individual under 
one consistent, probable, and striking view ; or shewing the different 
features, muscles, etc. in one action, and modi6ed by one principle. 
A face thus painted, is historical; — that is, it carries its own internal 
evidence of truth and nature with it ; and the number of individual 
peculiarities, as long as they arc true to nature, cannot lessen, but 
must add to the general strength of the impression. 

To give an example or two of what we mean. We conceive that 
the common portrait of Oliver Cromwell would be less valuable and 
striking if the wart on the l^ce were uken away. It corresponds 
with the general roughness and knottiness of the rest of the face; — or 
if considered merely as an accident, it operates as a kind of cir- 
cumstantial evidence of the genuineness of the representation. Sir 

121 



ON THE IMITATION OF NATURE 



Joshua Reynoldii'it portrait of Dr. Johnson has altogeEher that 
sluggishness of outward appearance, — that want of quickness and 
versatility, — that absorption of faculty, and look of purblind rcHection, 
which were characteristic of his mind. The accidmui discompOBure 
of hid wig indicates his habits. If, with the same felicity and truth 
of conception, this portrait (we mean the common one reading) had 
been more made out, it would not have been less historical, though it 
would have been more like and natural. 

Titian's portraits are the most historical that ever were painted ; 
and they arc so for this reason, that they have most consistency of 
form and expression. His portraits of Hippolito dc Medici, and of a 
young Neapolitan nobleman in the Louvre, are a striking contrast in 
this respect. All the lines of the face in the one ;— the eye-brows, 
the nose, the comers of the mouth, the contour of the face, — present 
the same sharp angles, the same acute, edgy, contracted expression. 
The other face has the finest expansion of feature and outline, and 
conveys the most exquisite idea possible of mild, thoughtful sentiment. 
The harmony of the expression constitutes as great a charm in 
Titian's portraits, as that of colour. The similarity sometimes 
objected to them, is partly natlona], and partly arises from the class 
of persons whom he painted. He painted only Italians ; and in his 
time none but persons of the highest rank, senators or cardinals, sat 
for their pictures. 

Sir Joshua appears to have been led into several errors by a false 
use of the terms general and particular. Nothing can be more 
different than the various application of both these terms to different 
things, and yet Sir Joshua constantly uses and reasons upon them as 
invariable. There arc three senses of the cx-^rfmon general charaeter^ 
as applied to ideas or objects. In the first, it aignities the general 
appearance or aggregate impression of the whole object, as opposed to 
the mere detail of detached parts. In the second, it signiiies the 
class, or what a number of such objects have in common with one 
another, to the exclusion of their characteristic differences. In this 
sense it is tantamount to abstract. In the third it signifies what is 
usual or common, in opposition to mere singularity, or accidental 
exceptions to the ordinary course of nature. The general Idea or 
character of a particular face, i.e. the aggregate impression resulting 
from all the parts combined, is surely very different from the abstract 
idea, or what it has in common with several others. If on giving 
the former all character depends ; to give nothing but the latter is to 
lake away all character. The more a painter comprehends of what he 
sees, the more valuable his work will be : but it is not true that his 
excellence will be the greater, the more he abstracts from what he sees, 

S12 



ON THE IDEAL 

— There is aa essential distioctioo which Sir Joshua has not obscrred. 
The details and peculiarities of nature are only inconsistent with 
ab§tract ideas, aod not with general or aggregate ctfccts. By con- 
founding the two things, Sir Joshua excludes the peculiarities and 
details not only from his historical composition, but from an enlarged 
view and comprehensive imitation of individual nature. 

Wc have here attempted to give some account of what should be 
meant by the iJtal in portrait-painting: in our next and concluding 
article on this subject, we shall attempt an explanation of this term, 
as it applies to historical painting. 




ON THE IDEAL. 

Tkt Chamfi7n.\ {Jtmmmry I, 1S15. 

* For I would by no means be thought to comprehend those writers 
of surprising genius, the authors of immense romances, or the modern 
novel and Atalantis writers, who, without any assistance from nature 
or history, record persons who never were, or will be, and facts 
which never did, nor possibly can happen : whose heroes are of their 
own creation, and their brains the chaos whence all their materials are 
collected. Noi that such writers deserve no honour ; so far from it, 
that perhaps they merit the highest. One may apply to them what 
Balzac says of Aristotle, that ihcy are a iecond nature ; for they hare 
no communication with the first, by which authors of an inferior class, 
who cannot stand alone, are obliged to support themselves, as with 
crutches.* — Fielding's Joseph Andrewt, vol. H. 

What is here said of certain writers of romance, would apply 
equally to a great number of painters of history. These persons, not 
without the sanction of high authority, have come to the conclusion 
that they had only to quit the vulgar path of truth and reality, In 
order that they * might ascend the brightest heaven of invention,' — 
and that to get rid of nature was all that was necessary to the loftiest 
flights of art, as the soul disentangled from the load of matter soars to 
its native skies. But ibis is by no means the truth. All art is built 
upon nature ; and the tree of knowledge lifts its branches to the 
clouds, only as it has struck its roots deep into the earth. He is the 
greatest artist, not who leaves the materials of nature behind him, bat 
who carries them with htm into the world of invention; — and the 
larger and more entire the masses in which he is able to apply them 
to his purpose, the stronger and more durable will his productions be. 
Sir Joshua Reynolds admits that the knowledge of the individual 
forms and various combinations of nature, is necessary to the student, 

223 



ON THE IDEAL 

but it is only in order that he mty avoid them, and Bteering clear of 
all representation of things at they actually exiitt, wander up and down 
in the empty void of his own imagination, having nothing better to 
cling to, than certain shadowy middle forms, made up of an abstrac- 
liooofall others, and cooiaioing nothing in themselves. Stripping 
nature of substance and accident, he is to exhibit a decompounded, 
disembodied, vague, ideal nature in her stead, seen through the misty 
veil of metaphyKtcs, and covered with the same fog and haze of 
confusion, while 

' Obscurity her curtani round him draws. 
And siren sloth a dull quietus sings.* 

The concrete, and not the abstract, is the object of painting, and 
of all the works of imagination. History-painting i> imaginary 
port rait -painting. The portrait-painter gives you an individual, such 
as he is tn hirasclf, and vouches for the truth of the likeness as a 
matter of fact : the historical painter gives you the individual such as 
he is likely to be, — that is, approaches as near to the reality as his 
imagination will enable him to do, leaving out such particulars as are 
inconsistent with the prc-conceivcd idea, — as are merely trifling and 
accidental, — and retaining all such ai are striking, probable, and 
consistent. Because the historical painter has not the same Immediate 
data to go upon, but must connect individual nature with an imaginary 
subject, is that any reason why he should discard individual nature 
altogether, and thus leave nothing for his imagination, or the imagina- 
tion o( the spectator to work upon? Portrait and history di^er as a 
narration of facts or a probable fiction differ ; but abstraction is the 
essence of neither. That is not the finest historical head which has 
least the look of nature, but which has most the look of nature, if it 
has the look of history also. But It has the look of nature, iV. of 
striking and probable nature, — as it has a marked and decided 
character, and not a character of indifference : and as the features 
and expression are consistent with themselves, not as they are 
common to others. The ideal is that which answers to the idea of 
something, and not to the idea of any thing, or of nothing. Any 
countenance strikes most upon the imagination, cither in a picture or in 
reality, which has most distinctness from others, and most identity 
with itself. The keeping in the character, not the want of character, 
is the essence of history. Without some such limitation as we have 
here given, on the genera! statement of Sir Joshua, we see no resting- 
place where the painter or the poet is to make his starid, so as not to 
be pushed to the utmost verge of naked commonplace inanity, — nor do 
we understand how there should be any such thing an poetry or painting 

224 



ON THE IDEAL 



toleratrd. A tahuia rata., a verbal de6nicion| the bare name, must be 
better than the most striking description or representation ; — the 
argument of a poem better than the poem itsctf, — or the catalogue of 
a picture than the original work. Where ihaU we stop in the easy 
down-hill pass of effeminate, unmeaning insipidity? There ie one 
circumstance^ to be sure, to recommend the system here objected to, 
which ii, that he who proposes this ideal perfection to himself, can 
hardly fail to succeed in it. An artist who paints on the infalltbte 
principle of not imitating nature, in representing the meeting of 
Tclemachus and Calypso, will not find it difficult to confound all 
difference of sex or passion, and in pourtraying the form of Mentor, 
will leave out every distinctive mark of age or wisdom. In repre- 
senting a Grecian marriage he will refme on hia favourite principles 
till it will be possible to transpose the features of the bridegroom and 
the bride without the least violation of propriety ; all the women will 
be tike the men ; and all like one another, all equally young, blooming, 
smiling, elegant, and insipid. On Sir Joshua's theory of the beau Uta/, 
Mr. Wc8tall*8 pictures arc perhaps the best that ever were painted, and 
on any other theory, the worst ; for they exhibit an absolute negation 
of all expression, character, and discrimination of form and colour. 

We shall endeavour to explain our doctrine by some examples 
which appear to us either directly subversive of, or not very obviously 
included in. Sir J. Reynolds's theory of history painting, or of the 
principles of art in general. Is there any one who can possibly 
doubt that Hogarth's pictures are perfectly and essentially hutoricall 
— or that they convey a story perfectly intelligibly, with faces and 
expressions which every one must recognise ? They have evidently 
a common or general character, but that general character is defined 
and modiiied by individual peculiarities, which certainly do not take 
away from the illusion or the effect any more than they would in 
nature. There is, in the polling for votes, a fat and a lean lawyer, 
yet both of them are lawyers, and lawyers busy at an election 
squabble. It is the same with the voters, who arc of all descriptions, 
the lame, the blind, and the halt, yet who all convey the very feel- 
ing which the scene inspires, with the greatest variety and the 
greatest consistency of expression. The character of Mr. jibraham 
Adams by Fielding, is somewhat particular, and even singular : yet it 
is i>ot less intelligible or striking on that account ; and his lawyer and 
his landlady, though copied from individuals in real life, had yet, as 
he himself observes, existed four tliousand years, and would continue 
to make a Bgure in the world as long as certain passions were found 
united with certain situations, and operating on certain dispositions. 

It will, we suppose, be objected that this, though history and 



we 
VOL. XI. : p 



325 



ON THE IDEAL 

invendon, it not high history, or poetical iovtotion. We would 
answer then at once by appealing to Shakespeare. Il will be allowed 
that his characters are poetical as well as natural ; yet the individual 
portrait is almost as striking as the general expression of nature and 
passion. It is this and this only which distinguishes htm from the 
rrench school. Dr. Johnson, proceeding on the same theoretical 
principles as his friend Sir Joshua, at^rms, that the excellence of 
Shakeapeare's characters consists in their generality. We grant in 
one sense it does; but we will add that it consists in their par- 
ticularity also. Are the admirable descriptions of the kings of 
Thrace and Inde in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, less poetical or 
historical, or ideal, because they are distinguished by traiu as 
characteristic ai they are suiking ; — in their lineaments, their persons, 
their armour, their other attributes, the one black and broad, the other 
(all, and fair, and freckled, with yellow crisped locks that glittered as 
the sun. The four white bulls, and the lions which accompany them 
are equally fine, but they are not fine because they present no distinct 
image to the mind. The efect of this is somehow lost io Drydeo'a 
Palamon and Arcite, and the poetry is lost with it. 

Much more is it necessary to combine individuality with the highest 
works of art in painting, * whose end and use both at the first, now is, 
and was, to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature.' The painter 
gives the degree and peculiarity of expression where words in a 
manner leave off, and if he does not go beyond mere abstraction, he does 
nothing. The cartoons of Raphael, and his pictures in the Varican, 
are sufficiently historical, yet there is hardly a face or figure in any of 
them which is anything more than fine and individual nature finely 
disposed. The late Mr. Barry, who could not be suspected of a pre- 

Sdice on this side of the question, speaks thus of them, — * In 
aphael's pictures (at the Vatican) of the Dispute of the Sacrament 
and the School of Athens, one sees all the heads to be entirely 
copied from particular characters in nature, nearly proper for the 
persons and situation which he adapts them to ; and he seems to me 
only to add and take away what may answer his purpose in little parts, 
features, &c. 1 conceiving, while he had the head before him, ideal 
characters and expressions, which he adapts these features and 
peculiarities of face to. This attention to the particulars which dia* 
tinguish all the different faces, persons and characters, the one from 
the other, gives his pictures quite the verity and uoafTected dignity 
of nature, which stamp the distinguishing differences betwixt ooe auD*t 
face and body and another's.* 

If any thing is wanting to the conclusiveness of this testimony, it ii 
only to look at the pictures themselves, particularly the Miracle of 

2 26 



ON THE IDEAL 

the Conversion, and the Assembly of Saints, which are little else 
than a collection of divine portraits, in natural and expressive 
attitudes, — full of the loftiest thought and feeling, and fts varied as 
they arc fine. It is this reliance on the power of nature, which has 
produced those master-piece* by the prince of painters, in which 
expression is ail in all ; — where one spirit — that of truth — pervades 
every part, brings down heaven to earth, mingles cardinals and popes 
with angels and apostles, and yet blends and harniomses the whole by 
the true touches and intense feeling of what is beautiful and grand in 
nature. It is no wonder that Sir .loshua, when he first saw Raphael's 
pictures in the Vatican, was at a loss to discover any great excellence 
in them, if he was looking out for his theory of the ideal, of neutral 
character and middle forms. 

Another authority, which has been in some measure discovered 
since the publication of Sir Joshua's Discourses, u to be found in 
the Elgin Marbles, taken from the Acropolis, and supposed to be tlie 
works of the celebrated Phidias. The process of fastidious refine- 
ment, and flimsy abstraction, is certainly not visible there. The 
figures have all the ease, the simplicity, and variety of nature, and 
look more like living men turned to stone than any thing else. 
Even the details of the subordinate parts, the loose folds in the skin, 
the veins under the belly or on the sides of the horses, more or less 
swelled as the animal is more or less in action, are given with 
scrupulous exactness. This is true nature, and true history. In a 
word, we can illusuate our position here better than we could with 
respect to painting, by saying that these invaluable remains of 
antiquity are precisely like casts taken from nature. — Michael Angelo 
and the antique may still be cited against us, and we wish to speak 
on this subject with great difiidence. We confess, they appear to us 
much more artificial than the others, but we do not think that this is 
their excellence. For instance, it strikes us that there is something 
theatrical in the air of the yipoilot and in the Hercxikt an ostentatious 
and over-laboured display of the knowledge of the muscles. Perhaps 
the fragment of the Theseus at Lord Elgin's has more grandeur ae 
well as more nature than either of them. The form of the limbs, aa 
affected by pressure or action, and the general sway of the body, are 
better preserved in it. The several parts in the later Greek statues 
are more balanced, made more to tally like modem periods ; each 
muscle is more equally brought out, and highly finished, and is 
BO far better in itself, but worse as a part of a whole. If these 
wonderful productions have a fault, it is the want of simplicity, of a 
due subordination of parts, which sometimes gives them more a look 
of perfect lay-figures put into attitudes, than of real Imiutioos of nature. 

ai7 



ON THE IDEAL 



The same objection may be urgwl against the works of Michael 
Angelo, and ii indeed the necessary consequence either of selecting 
from a number of different models, or of proceeding on a scientific 
knowledge of the structure of the different parts ; for the physical 
form is something given and defined, but motion is varioas and infinite. 
The superior symmetry of form, common to the ancient statues, we 
have no hesitation in attributing to the superior symmetry of the 
models in nature, and to the superior opportunity for studying them. 

In general, we would be understood to mean, that the ideal is not a 
voluntary fiction of the brain, a fanciful piece of patch-work, a com- 
promise between the defects of nature, or an artificial balance struck 
between innumerable deformities, (as if we could form a perfect idea 
of beauty though we never had seen any such thing,) but a preference 
of what is fine in nature to what is less so. There is nothing fine in 
art but what is taken almost immediately and entirely from what is 
finer in nature. Where there have been the finest models in nature, 
there have also been the finest works of art. The Greek statues were 
copied from Greek forms. Their portraits of individuals were often 
superior to their personifications of their gods; the head of the 
Antinouj, for example, to that of the jipoHo, Raphael's expressions 
were taken fron» Italian faces ; and we have heard it observed, that 
the women in the streets of Rome seem to hare walked out of his 
pictures in the Vatican. 

If we are asked, then, what it is that constitutes historic expression 
or idea) beauty, wc should answer, not (with Sir Joshua) abstract 
expression or middle forms, but consistency of expression in the one, 
and symmetry of form in the other. 

A face is historical, which is made up of consistent parts, let those 
parts be ever so peculiar or uncommon. Those details or peculiarities 
only are inadmifisiblc in history, which do not arise out of any 
principle, or tend to any conclusion, — which are merely casual, insigni- 
ficant, and unconnected, — which do not /r//; that is, which either do 
not add to, or which contradict the general result, — which are not 
integrant parts of one whole, however strange or irregular that whole 
may be. That history does not require or consist in the middle form 
or central features is proved by this, that the antique heads of fauns 
and satyrs, of Pan or SHenus, are perfectly grotesque and singular ; yet 
are as undoubtedly historical, as the Apollo or the Venus, because 
they have the same predominant, intelligible, characteristic expression 
throughout. Socratet is a person whom we recognise quite as familiarly, 
from our general acquaintance with human nature, as jildhia^er.^ 

' The picturet of Rabcni at Blenheim are another proof of this, andccruialy 
finer than the Luxembourg gallery. 
328 



ON THE IDEAL 

The simplicity or the fewness of the parts of a head facilkaies this 
effect, but is not necessary to it. The head of a negro, a mulatto, Sec. 
introduced into a picture is alwaya hiitoricalf because it is always 
distinct from the rest, and uniform witli itself. The face covered with 
a beard is historical for the same reason, because it presents distinct 
and uniform masses. Again, a face, not so in itself, becomes historical 
by the mere force of passion. The same strong passion moulds the 
features into the same emphatic expression, by giving to the mouth, the 
eyes, the forehead, etc., the same expansion or contraction, the same 
voluptuous movement or painful constraint. All intellectual and im- 

fassioned faces are historical ; — the heads of philosopher!, poets, 
overs, and madmen. Passion sometimes produces beauty by this 
means, and there is a beauty of form, the effect entirely of expression ; 
as a smiling mouth, not beautiful in common, becomes so by being put 
into that action. 

Sir Joshua was probably led to his opinions on art in general by his 
theory of beauty, which he makes to consist in a certain central form, 
the mediunj of all others. In the first place, this theory is question- 
able in itself; or if it were not so, it docs not include many other 
things of much more importance in historical painting (though perhaps 
not so in sculpture') namely, character, which necessarily implies 
individuality ; expression, which is the excess of thought or feeling, 
strength or grandeur of form, which is excess also. — There seems, 
however, to be a certain symmetry of form, as there is a certain 
harmony of sounds or colours, which gives pleasure, and produces 
beauty, independently of custom. Custom is undoubtedly one source 
or condition of beauty, but it appears to be rather its limit than its 
essence ; that is, there are certain given forms and proportions 
established by nature in the structure of each thing, and sanctioned by 
custom, without which there can only be distortion and incongruity, 
but which alone do not produce beauty. One kind is more beautiful 
than another j and the objects of the same kind are not beautiful 
merely as we are used to them. The rose or Hly is more beautiful 
than the daisy, the swan than the crow, the greyhound than the beagle, 
the deer than the wild goat ; and we invariably prefer the Greek to 
the African face, though our own inclines more to the latter. We 
admire the broad forehead, the straight nose, the small mouth, 
the oval chin. Regular features are those which record and assimlLite 
most to one another. The Greek face is made up of smooth flowing 
lines, and correspondent features ; the African face of sharp angles 
and projections. A row of pillars is beautiful for the same reason. 

^ Michael Angelo took his iileai o( psinting from Kulptore, tni Sir Joihoa from 
Michiel Aogelo* 

a 29 



L. BUONAPARTES * CHARLEMAGNE* 

We confess, on this subject of beauty, wc are half-disposed to fall into 
the mysticism of Raphael Mcngs, who had some notion about a 
principle of universal hnrmony, it we did not dread the censure of an 
eminent critic. 



CHARLEMAGNE: OU L'LGLISE d£lIVR£e. 



Tha CAamffien] 



[Dittmttr 1 8, 1814. 



It seldom happens that the same family produces an emperour and 
an epic pMt. So it is, howcTcr, in the present instance. The 
brother of Buonaparte may be allowed to take hia rank among poets, 
as Buonaparte himself has done among kings. But the historian of 
Charlemagne does not appear to ub to present quite the same formid- 
able front to the established possessors of the seats of the muses, as the 
imitator of Charlemagne did to the hereditary occupiers of thrones. A 
self-will without coTitrouI, an ambition without bounds, a gigantic 
daring which built its confidence of success on the contempt of danger, 
were the means by which Buonaparte obtained and lost his portentous ■ 
power ; and by which he would probably hare lost it on the borders 1 
of the Ganges, or among the sands of the Red Sea, if he had not been 
prevented by the snows of Russia. 

Our poet is not the same monster of genius that his brother was of 
power. In the career of fame, he docs not risk the success of his 
reputation by the unlimited extravagance of his pretensions. His 
muse does not disdain to borrow the conceptions of others, or to submit 
to the rules of art ; and the boldest flights of his imagination seldom 
pass the bounds of a well- regulated enthusiasm. CharUmagne is the 
work of a very clever man, rather than a great poet ; it displays more 
talent than genius, more ingenuity than invention. It is more artificial 
than original. In saying this, wc would not be understood to mean, 
that ii is without considerable novelty, cither of description or scnri- 
ment. Far, very far from it : almost every page presents examples of 
both, equally striking and elegant, which it would be difficult to refer 
immediately to any similar passages in other authors. But the whole 
wants character : it does not bear the stamp of the same presiding 
mind : no new world of imagination is opened to the view : we do not 
feel the presence of a power which we have never felt before, and 
which we can never forget. 

The stanzas are all equally or proportionably good : but they are as 
good separately, as taken together : tbey do not run into one another ; 
they do not make a poem. There is no strong impulse given, no 

250 



L. BUONAPARTE^S 'CHARLEMAGNE' 

overpowering grandeur of effect. In scarcely any part of the story 
doea the mind luck back with terror and delight at what is [)a8t, or 
hurry on with eager curiosity to what is to come. The art is too 
apparent. The author is too busy in managing hit materials, in 
aelectiDg, adorning, varying, and amplifying them to the bestadrantage: 
but they seem something external to him. His subject has not taken 
emirc poHession of his miud, and therefore he does not take full 
posKsaon of his readers. Yet it is certain that all the materials of 
poetry are here ; — imageryi incident, character, passion, thought, and 
ofaoervation — all but the divine enthusiasm of the poet, which can 
atone communicate true warmth and enthusiasm to others. 

There is one praise which wc most willingly bestow on this poem, 
which is, that it is not French. It is not another Hekhiade : — 
that is, it is not poetry devoid of all imagination, and of erery thing 
like imagination. On the contrary, it abounds with variety and 
distinctness of concej>tion, and is evidently written on the model of 
Italian poetry. We were a little surprised to tind that the author had 
not adopted the common heroic French verse, but has borrowed the 
Italian Stanza with varying rhymes, and a little half verse in the 
middle, which has an agreeable e^ect enough in the lighter parts of 
the poem, but does not accord so well with the more serious and im- 
pressive. The following 8tan£aB will give our readers an idea of the 
metre, and of the general style of description. — They represent 
Charlemagne traversing the Alps the night before a battle. 

* Au dessus du mont Jove, un mont plus cscaipc 
S'clance dans la niir, ct sa cime efTrayante 
N'offrc point dcs sentierj la trace ra.^suranie. 
Par les vents orageux sans cctsc il est frappe. 
let, pluii de forrts, ptus de germe de vie: 

Sur la surface unie 
L'ardentc caniaile en vain darde ses feux i 
Dc8 gla^ons entasses (piramide ttemelle I) 
Eiounent la nature ; et dans ces tristes heux, 
A sa fcconditc la tcrrt est infidele. 

C'e&t par la qu'aujourd'hui Charles s'ouvre un passage, 
Les counicn dclaisscs errent dans Je vallon : 
Et par millf detours Ic terrible escadron 
Avancc lentcmciit Rur la pcnte sauvage. 
L'astre des nuitx Kuivait son court silencieux \ 

Les vents impctucux 
Entrechoquant par fois Irs tances fonnidables, 
S*opposaient vamcmcnt a ccs audacicux, 
C}ui tuivanc dc Icur chef les pas infatinblcs, 
Touchent cnfin le sol du piton sourcillcux. 

231 



L. BUONAPARTE^S * CHARLEMAGNE' 

En ccrcles rcssenrs pres clu fils dc Pepin, 
ScB dignes compagnons au loin jctieni la vue 
Sur uiie tcn^breuse et prufonde etendue 
Dc mobiles vapcurs, de nviaeeii sans tin. 
Appuycs sur Icur glaive iU domincnt la sphere 

Ou [e bruyant tonnerre 
S'lllume par le choc des principes dirers. 
Le barde print ainsi les ombres echtantes 
D'Oscar et de Flngal errant au haut des airs, 
Et brandissant cncor leim lances flamboyantes. 

Tcis, auprcs d'llion, les dicux cnfants d'Hotncre, 
Franchissant dc Plda Ics sommets cbranlcs, 
Prc5 du Bis dc Satume en foutc raxsemblcs, 
Sont dccrits preparant Ics destins de la Ccrre, 
Ces faniomcs divins furent jadis des prcux : 

hc$ Kicclcs tcncbrcux, 
Otant de Jcbova dcnaturer rimage, 
Dre&«i(:reiit det autels aitx ho'os labuleux : ' 
Et de I'idolatrie atTirmis^ant rouvnig;e, 
De CC5 guerrier^ obscurs ' Homere fit de difux 

Ainsi les paladinK, environnant leur roi/ etc. 

CAanl kuitiemi. 

We might refer to many other passages equally picturesque, though 
perhaps to none so poetical. Such afi the comparison oi Roland 
taken from the scene of combat by Oliver, to a lion led off by ao 
African, that still roars as he follows his well-known guide; — the 
first appearance of Aj-mclie, the death of Wilfred at the altar, the 
vanishing of Adelard from the sight of Charlemagne, the forest of 
Eresbourg, the Druidical sacrifice, and the funeral rites of Orlando 
in the valley of Ronscevalles. 

The language of the poem often bears a striking resemblance to 
the language of painting, or seems like a detailed description of some 
chtf tVttuvre of the art, rather than the creation of the poet's fancy. 
We should have little doubt that the solitary church in the valley of 
RoDscevalles is copied from that in the background of Titian's 
St. Peter Martyr^ and the massacre at the altar in the first canto is 
certainly taken from some piciure of Raphael ! 

In the sentiments of this poem there is more feebleness, a greater 
number of Gallicisms, than in the imagery. We meet with such 
courtly expressions as these : 

*I.ei Francs a chaque instant voient de nouveaux guerrien 
SoiHdter VAmneur J'embrojser leur defeme '. " 



L. BUONAPARTE'S 'CHARLEMAGNE* 

The devil addrcsees the deity with the followiog piece of high- 
Hown sentimentality : 

'Po«r braver Ics rcmortlR, ct la gene et )a flamme, 
Je n< demande ricn qu'un seu! rayon d'espoir.^ 

Wc koow, isdced, from whence the allusion is takeni and we 
wonder the more at the affectation implied in the alteration. It is 
like some of Poj>e^s refinements on Isaiah. In giving an account of 
the sorrow which prevails in heaven at the disasters of the church of 
Christ, the author has expressed a trite theological sentiment with 
more felicity than we recollect to have seen it expressed before : 

* On rntend a ct% mots totitcs Ics volx cclcxtes 
D'une douee tristcssc cxhalcr In soupin. 
La harpc ainsi murmurc au souffle dcs zcphirs. 
Les haDitants du cici n'ont point ccs sons funestet — 
Qu'ici-baa Ics majheurs arrachcnt aux huoiains. 

Aux peines, atix chagrins, 
Aux passions du monde ils ne sont plus en proie j 
D^un amour sans melange ils gotitent la douceur: 
Leun maux sont moins amers, plus purs que notre joie \ 
El leur trisiesse a peine altcre leur bonhrur/ 

The conception of his Heaven is much more just than that of 
Hell, though the execution is (almost as a matter of course) less 
powerful. The two figures of Adam and Moses, in the former, arc 
particularly fine : 

* Le p«re des humains voit sa nombrcuse race, 
Et catcule, pen-tif, le nombre des clu« t 

MoVse prcD de lui, d'un seul regard embrasse 
IrCs enfants d'Israel en tous Heux ncpandus.* 

Our poet has, very good-naturedly, (and we hope with the 
approbation of his holiness the Pope, to whom this work is dedi- 
cated,) set aside two sunzas for the secret conveyance of the souls of 
virtuous heathens and of little children, into the abodes of the blest. 

The author of Charlemagne has constructed his hell upon an entirely 
new and fanciful theory. Wc see no sort of reason why Satan 
should not, in strict propriety, sit upon a throne; nor why his 
followers should be degraded from the rank of fallen angels into 
modern French revolutionists. We like Milton's account much 
better in all respects; and our author himself, as is the natural 
consequence of all affectation, flounders into contradiction in the very 
next verse, where he gives a most superb account of Lucifer. In 
the same spirit, he has made a more enlightened distribution of 

233 



L BUONAPARTE'S 'CHARLEMAGNE' 

crimes and ponishments ; and nubluhed an entire new eet of regula- 
tions and bye-laws in the regions of the damned. Alexander aad 
the two Brutuses Agure there with Cain and other murderers, while 
* the noble Cxsar ' in exempted. Now we hare no notion of such a 
philosophical hell as our poetical casuist would carve out. This 
celebrated place is, wc think, of atl others the least liable to plans of 
reform. It is almost the oldest establishment upon record^ and 
placed quite out of the reach of the progress of reason and meta- 
physics. We hate disputes in poetry, still more than in religion. 
At least, whatever appeals to the imagination, ought to rest on 
undivided sentiment, on one undisputed tradition, one catholic faith.' 
Besides, the whole account of the infernal regions is an excrescence, 
equally misplaced and improbable. None of the heroes of the poem 
descend there, but as Satan is brought thence to appear to Charlemagne 
in the shape of a lying priest, this opportunity is uken to describe the 
geography of the place according to the latest discoreries. There is 
one point in which we agree with the poet, vix. in his indignation 
against tyrants and their flatterers, though he does not go so far as 
honest Quevcdo, who, when his hero wonders to see so few kings in 
hell, makes his guide reply sullenly, 'Here are all that ever reigned.' 
We shall conclude our remarks on this part of the poem with the 
author's description of the punishment of Cain, which we think the 
most striking. 

* Ici r\igit Cain, Ics chcveux hcrissts, 
Et portant sur son front la marque sanguinaire. 

'* Cain, Cain, repomU : qu'as-tu fait dc ton frere ? " 
A cettc voix du Cicl tous ses kens sont glaccs j 
Cain croit voir Abel eclatant de himicrej 

Et (I'un bnu tetncrairc, 
II ose encor frapper I'objet de son courroux t 
11 voudraic le pnvcr d'une seconde vici 
Mais Tombrc gloricusc cchappant a scs coups. 
Redouble dans son cccur Ics tourmcnts de rcnvie.* 



THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED 

Tie Cliamfm.] [Dectmher i$, 1814. 

The story of a poem is seldom worth a long description. It may be 
sufficient to say in the present case, that the danger to which the 

^ The pcnonifi cation of the Deity ti another initance o( critical contradictkni 
aod conceit. Objecting to the ligurei of Raf^hnel and Michael Angelo as 
mythological and seniible, he introduce! a little golden triangle behind ■ dond 
(irianpt/um in niiie) ai a philoaophictl emblem of the Trinity ! 

«34 



L. BUONAPARTE'S 'CHARLEMAGNE* 

church was exposed, and from which it wa£ afterwards delivered, 
arose from the second marriage of Charlemagne with jirmeliCf the 
daughter of D'ulicr^ the King of the I^ombards, who wa« exerting 
himself to depose Pope Adrian. Charlemagne bad divorced his first 
wife, jldelinJe, but he ia warned in a vision to take her again to his 
bosom. He does so, and Didier and his daughter consequently 
become the enemies of this Christian Emperor, who takes arms to 
defend the Holy See. After the usual casualties and fluctuationi of 
fortune, the son of Pepin finally triumphs. 

On u more carefid examination, we see no reason to alter our first 
opinion of this poem. It has given us no strong impulse, nor left any 
permanent trace on our minds. It opens no new and rich vein of 
poetry, though certainly great talents are shewn in the use which is 
made of existing materials. Perhaps it may be said that this ia all 
that can be done in a modern poem : if so, that all is hardly worth 
the doing. There is no one who has borrowed his malerials more 
than Milton, or who has made them more completely his own: there 
is hardly a line which docH not breathe the same lofty spirit, hardly 
a thought or image which he h:is not clothed with the majesty of his 
genius. It ia the same in reading other great poets. The informing 
mind is every where present to us. Who is there that does not 
know and feel sensibly the majestic copiousness of Homer, the 
polished elegance of Virgil, enamoured of^ its own workmanship, — 
the severe grandeur of Dante, the tender pathos of Tasso, the endless 
voluptuousness of Spenser, and the unnumbered graces of Ariosto^ 
Even the mysterious solemnity of Ossian, and the wild romantic 
interest of Walter Scott, are something gained to the imagination. 
But to the present instance, we do not feel the same participation 
with the author's mind, nor accession of strength to our own. So 
little is it in the power even of the most accomplished art to counter- 
feit nature. The true Florimel did not differ more from the Florimel 
which was made for the witches' son, than true genius from the most 
successful and elaborate imitation of it. 

We shall close these remarks with extracting two passages which 
in the opinion of our readers will perhaps be thought to amount to a 
complete refutation of our objections. The first is the descriptioa of 
the Funeral rites of Orlando, in the thirteenth canto. 

'GaifTre a suivi son guide au fond du precipice, 
Un clocher solitaire a frappc ks regards : 
Dans Ics jours du rcpos, Ics tidelcs epars 
Accourent au signal du divin sacrifice. 
Ici du haut dcs monts dcsccndent Ics pasteun. 
La vicrgc dcs doulcura 



L. BUONAPARTES * CHARLEMAGNE' 

De cci morteU obscure y nqoit la pricre : 
Sur 11(1 autel dc bois on a sculptc ses traits ; 
Lcs nombreuK cx-voto de la divinr mere 
Dans CCS licux ccar^ attestant 3cs bienfalts. 

Un wn plalntifct sourd vicnt de frappcr In ain j 
CVii I'airain qui gcmk pour lcs pompes iunebres. 
Dans Ic temple Ic jour a fait place aux tcncbrcsj 
Des signes tie la mort lcs parois sont couverts. 
Un saint pontife ofFrait la victJmc ineffable ; 

Et sa voix secourable 
Inroquait pour nos prtux le celeste rrpos. 
Un simple sarcophage au milieu de IVnceinte 
Retrace a tous les yeux la tombc du h£ro«, 
Et repand dans lcs cceurs une ehstesse satntc. 
• 

Lfr prctre des hameaux, suivant Pantique usage, 
Dans rEglise cbretienne en tout terops rcTere, 
Trois fold avcc I'eau wintc et Pencensoir ucre 
Fait tolcnneitcment Ic tour du sarcophagc. 
" Dans le sein de ton Dieu sois hcurcux a jamais: 
Roland, repose en paix." 
Du pontife telle est la fcrvcnte pricre. 
Ccs mots ont terminc le sacri^cc saint; 
Et la foulc se rend dans le champ funcraitv 
« Ou gtt, sous unc croIx, le corps du paladin." 

In the nineteenth canto, Lawrence and her children, after tbcir 
escape from Bourdeaux, arrive at the castle of MetariCf an old 
christian knight, when the following example of perfect description 
occurs : — 

* La nuit cnvellopait tes champs & lcs remparts ; 
Sur les murs mena^ants dc la xallc gothlquc 
Une tcintc plus sombre Sc plus mtlancliolique 
Couvrait lcs bouclicr^, lcs glaives, Sc les dardsj 
Le vent du soir souHlait des gorges du Pyrene j 

Et sa folIgurtl^c halrinc 
Des armurcs dcR prcux entrcchoquait Pairain. 
Lcs lances^ tcs cimicrs rcndcnt des sons funcbres: 
Leur murmure plaintif resi^emble au cri lointain 
D'un guerrier qui succoinbe au milieu des tcncbres.* 

The author in his notes gives us to understand that he is about another 
epic poem, the hero of which is Isolicr, a tiative of Corsica, and 
which is to bear the same relation to Charlemagne, chat the Odyssey 
docs to the Iliad. 



2S6 



FRENCH PICTURES 



LUCIEN BUONAPARTE'S COLLECTION, ETC. 

TJu Ciampm,^ [Jaamtry 22, iSi $. 

We have been able to obtain access to the almost iaaccessible collection 
of the Prince of Canino. The liberality with which the collections 
of foreign princes are thrown open to strangers and the public is often 
boasted of; but this liberality, we suppose, ceases when the same 
collections are exposed in this country for sale. The pictures of 
Lucicn Buonaparte, which are ralued at ^^40,000, are kept in moit 
' vile durance ' ; and even the ticket of admission, which we presented 
to a person who seems placed at the door to keep persons out, and 
not to let them in, was inspected and objected to with the same 
scrupulous jealousy as if it had been a bank-note presented in payment 
of the purchase-money of the collection. A cursory glance round 
the room was sufficient to explain the source of so much mystery and 
caution. The pictures are in general mere trash. Nor is the general 
dearth of attraction relicTed by even a few examples of first-rate 
excellence. The only exception to these remarks which struck us 
was an exquisite female head by Leonardo da Vinci. It is one of 
the finest specimens we have seen of that great master, both for 
expression, drawing, the spirit and delicacy of the execution, , and the 
preservation of the tone of colouring. There is in Leonardo^ female 
heads a grace and charm of expression, which is peculiar to himself 
— a character of natural sweetness and playful tenderness, mixed up 
with the pride of conscious intellect, and with the graceful reserve of 
personal dignity. He blends purity with voluptuousness; and the 
expression of his women is equally characteristic of ' the mistress or 
the saint ! ' His pictures are always worked up to the utmost height 
of the idea he had conceived, with an elaborate felicity. No painter 
made more a religion of his art I His fault is, that his style of 
execution is too mathematical ; that is, his pencil does not follow the 
graceful variety of nature, but substitutes certain refined gradations 
both of form and colour, producing equal changes in equal distances, 
with a mechanical uniformity. Leonardo was a man of profound 
learning as well as genius; and perhaps transferred too much of the 
formality of science to his favourite art. In making this objection, 
we have had in oar eye two of the most celebrated pictures, the 
Jocunda in the Louvre, and the Si. John in the possession of Mr. 
Hope. The picture in the present collection has more flexibility and 
variety ; as well as greater heightening of colour ; and perhaps the 
latter effect may be the cause of the former. It is not impossible 
that a certain degree of monotony may have been sometimes produced 

237 



FRENCH PICTURES 

by the rubbiog off of the higher tints and finishing touches of the 
pencil, 10 aE to leave little more of the picture than the generftl 
ground-work. 

To return to the collection before us. The only remaining pictures 
which can excite any interest are, some curious specimens of the early 
masters, Ghirtandaio, Bellino, and others; — some small sketches of 
Titian ; a finely coloured Holy Family by the same master ; a portrait 
by Sebastian del Piombo ; a sketch of Diana and Actcon, by A. 
Caracci ; a landscape by Ruysdael ; and a transfiguration, said to be 
by Vasari. Besides these, there is a FrenchlBed Salvator Rosa, 
coloured pink and bJue, a copy of Domenichino's head of St. Jerome, 
one or two pretended Clauaes, and some amatory pictures of the 
modem French school. To these shall we add the picture of Lucien 
Buonapane himself^ Nothing certainly can go beyond it in iu way. 
It is the very priggum of portrait-painting. 

We hare already said sometliing of the French style of portraits, 
and we shall here add a few remarks in explanation, though we are 
aware that any hints of a want of refinement wiU be thrown away on 
a nation so entirely spirUuel as the French, and we are also afraid 
that some of our own artists may take credit to themselves for u 
many excellences, as we may charge their neighbours with defects. 

The French systematically paint all objects as they would paint 
//(// life\ and hence they in general never paint any thing hut 4tiii 
life, [t is not possible to paint tliat which has life and motion 
by the same mechanical process by which that which has neither life 
nor motion may be represented. Thus it is not possible to imitate the 
human countenance, which is moveable and animated, as you would 
imitate a piece of drapery, or a chair, or a table, in which the physical 
appearance is every thing, and that appearance always remains the 
same. The industry of the eye and hand will go a great way in giviog 
the effect of a number of parts of any external object, arranged in the 
same order ; but to give truth of effect to that which is always 
varying, and always expressive of more than strikes the senses, imagi- 
nation and feeling are absolutely required. Whenever there is life 
and motion, life and motion become the principal things ; and any 
attempt to give these, without a distinct operation or feeling of the 
mind as to what constitutes their essence, by a mere attention to the 
physical form, or particular details, must necessarily destroy all 
appearance both of one and the other. To instance in expression 
only. This can only be given by being felt. Take for instance the 
outline of part of a face, and let it be so placed as to form part of the 
outline of a rock, or any other inanimate object- A copy of this, 
done with tglfrabje care, will seem to be the same thing: but let it 

aj8 



FRENCH PICTURES 



he known that this U really a part of a human countenance, and then 
it will probably be found to be quite different from the difference of 
expretiion. Wc disttoguish all objects more or less by habitual know- 
ledge ; and this knowledge is always acute in proportion to the interest 
excited, that is, lo the intensity of the feeling or passion which is 
combined with the immediate impression on the senses. Expression 
is therefore only caught by sympathy ; and it has been received as a 
maxim, that no painter can succeed in giving an expression which ia 
totally foreign to his own character. There are some painters who 
cannot paint a wise man, and others who cannot paint a fool : some 
who cannot give strength, and others softness to their works. It is 
the want of character, of flexibility, and transient expression, which 
is the great defect of French portraits. Without the indications of 
the mind breathed into the countenance and moulding the features, the 
whole must appear stiff, hard, mean, unconnected, and lifeless — like 
the mask of a face, not like the face itself — forced, affected, and 
unnatural. Another consequence of this mode of copying the letter 
and leaving out the spirit of all objects, is that the face in general looks 
the least finished part of the picture, for while the other parts remain 
the same, this necessarily varies, and the only way to make up for the 
want of literal exactness, must be by seizing the force and animation 
of the expression. A head that does not look like life, cannot look 
like any thing else. — The portrait of Lucien Buonaparte is a striking 
confirmation of these remarks. We do not know how to describe it 
otherwise than by saying that it looks as if the artist had first modelled 
the face in wax, oiled it over, painted the lips purple, stuck on a pair 
of artificial eyebrows, and inserted a pair of dark blue glass eyes, 
and then set to work to copy every part of this perverse misrepre- 
sentation, with tedious and disgusting accuracy. In a portrait of 
the author of Charlemagne, one has a right to expect some refine- 
ment of intellect and feeling, if not the marks of elevated genius. 
No such thing. The picture has just the appearance of a spruce 
holiday mechanic, with all the hardness, littleness, and vulgarity of 
expression which is to be found in nature, where the countenance 
has not been expanded by thought and sentiment, and in art, where 
this expression has been entirely overlooked. The French artists 
themselves, both men and women, seem to be aware of the dilemma 
to which they are reduced, and prefer copying from plaster casts, or 
lay figures, to painting from the life ; which baffles the mechanical 
minuteness and * laborious foolery ' of their style of art. They set 
about painting a face as they would about engraving a picture. This 
cannot possibly answer. From the general idea of the liveliness and 
volatility of the French character one would be apt to suppose, that 

»39 



FRENCH PICTURES 



inicpafl of the method here described, their arti«t« would have adopted 
ihc happier mode proposed by Pope in describing his characters of 
women : 

* Come, thru, the coloun and the ground prepare, 
Dip in the rainbow, irick her off in air, 
ChuK a Ann cloud, before it falls, and in it 
Catchy ere the change, the Cynthia of a minute ! * 

But the days of Watteau are orer, and the plodding grarity of the 
Dutch has succeeded to the natural levity of French art. It is do 
wonder: for both proceed from a want of real concentratioo and force 
of intellect.' 

There is another picture in this collection which we would recom- 
mend to the attention of all whotn it may concern, as a most instructive 
le&son of the vanity of human pretensions, and the capriciousness of 
national taste. It is the historical picture of the return of Marcus 
Sextus, by Guerin, one of the most admired painters of the modern 
French school. This picture combines all the vices of that school 
in their most confirmed and aggravated state, and yet it drew, at the 
time when it was lirst exhibited in Paris, crowds of admirers, whose 
raptures were excited exactly in proportion as it flattered their 
habitual prejudices, and outraged every principle of common sense. 
It consists of three figures, that of the husband standing io front of 
the bed, the wife who lies dead upon it being behind him^ and the 
daughter kneeling at his feet. Now all these figures seem as if they 
had been cut out of pastrboard, smeared over with puuy to represent 
the shadows, and then stuck tlat against the canvass to make a picture. 
This is not truth, nor invention, nor art, nor nature: but it is the 
French style of painting. Their pictures arc sections of statues, or 
architectural elevations of the human figure. They have the effect 
neither of painting nor sculpture ; for painting has colour, and the 

' When the writer nf thii article wta in France lu-rlve yean ago, a younj 
French artitt be|«n to copy m pencil a figure of tKe Virgin by LeonarJo da Vinci. 
He returned to it liay after Oajr, and week after week. He was tlwuya there. 
He woul'i firtt retouch an eyebrow or an eyeUih, then ilo something to one of the 
(Sngert, then mark in a bit of the drapery, and then return to the face again. All 
thia he did, lumclimei leaning over the raiting before the picture, aometixnetiitling 
on a atool, mcchanicaliy screwed oo to it, lometimes ttaadiog on one leg. He 
alio relieved the munotony of hii undertjikinf;, by retiring to a tmall diitance tn 
compare hia copy with the original, or shewed it tn some one near him, or went 
round to look over others who were copying, or stood at the lire for an hour 
together, or loitered into the sculpture room, or walked round the pitlery, and 
griierally observeii ar his reiurn that Pounia was excellent * poor la com position,* 
Rnpharl * pour I'exprcssion,* Titian 'pour let beaux coloris,* but that David and 
his pnpila unttetl alt these (]ualitie* to the fine forms of the antitjuc. At the end of 
eleven weeks, we left him perfecting hi* copy. For anything we know, he may 
be at it itlll. 

140 




FKENCH PICTURES 

appearance of substance, sculpture has real substance without colour; 
but these have neither colour, sub&tancct nor the appearance of it, but 
consist of mere lines. Whatever they may do, we cannot think this 
the highest style of history : because proceeding on arithmetical 
principles only, it wants two out of three of the physical requisites of 
the art of painting. The picture of Guerin is painted in strong con- 
trast of light and shade, and ought to have proportionable prominence 
and relief. But from the habit of attending only to lines and detached 
parts, that is, of never combining the lesser masses into larger one«, 
or of contemplating the general appearance of nature, the whole effect 
is frittered away, and neither the prominent parts stand out, nor do 
the receding ones fall back. The same flat, imbecile, and dingy 
effect is produced, as by smearing white streaks upon a black ground^ 
without knowledge or design, or reference to any actual object in 
nature. The drawing in this picture is equally characteristic of the 
general French style, and equally repulsive. It is not easy to explain 
the elaborate absurdity of the process : but it is in reality this. The 
rainter has taken the figure of an antique statue for the figure of his hero. 
But finding that the position would not answer his purpose ; he 
therefore gets a lay-figure made from a cast of this statue, and dis- 
torting it into the attitude he wants, places it against some object 
which props it up, with the two feet stretched out before it, as if it 
could neither move nor stand j and this the artist calls painting 
history, and copying the ancients. This is what no other nation dare 
attempt. The expression which is given to these mockcrirs of art 
and nature, is of a piece with tlie rest. It is cither copied tamely, 
servilely, and without effect, from the model before them, or if any 
thing is added to it, all grace and feeling is instantly lost in the 
extravagance of grimace and affecLition. The ambition of these 
rclincrs on nature is like that of Pygmalion to give life and animation 
to a stone, but no miracle has yet come to their assistance.' The 
French are incapable of painting true history, for they are a people 
essentially without imagination, and without a knowledge of the 
passions that belong to it. All that is powerful in them, is imme- 
diate sensation — the rest is either levity, or formality, or distortion. 
Take the picture of the deluge by Girodct. In this, a daughter is 
represented clinging to her mother by the hair of her head, the 



^ It ti not correct to tay that the French always colour from thtir caati. They 
•ometime* roage them over wiih a brautifal roM-eolour, or cover their Uy-fifuret 
with a flesh-coloured Nankin, like that which adorn* the bodie« of their opera 
dincen. Wc were at a lou to account for the cotourinK d( David, till we heard 
or thia contrivance. It it thui that thcK accomplbbed persona think to rival the 
beei of Titian uiil Coite^cio ! 

VOL. XI. : Q 241 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 

morbrr m clwgio^ co the hotfasn!, be u at tbe nac ta 

In* Unktr wvh hi« otber arm, Md i» enabled co Nppon die wfaok at 

thu rxqaUisc family ffomt hj takiog boU of ifae fanadb U a 

which hu jute broken otfby tfac vcigbc Tbb efiirt of * 

aimmt eqoaU the exploit of the down ia the a ttP Co nriiD C, lebo i 

to balance a doxm men oo one aiuxhcr'i •faooUen. If Pomh& or 

Raphael had bern fortonate enosgh to atadj in the ceninl fbonla 

of Paj-(»p what a difTrreoce would this new priDcipIe of ^i mi|i«g hivr 

inuodnced into their pktarea of the Deluge and the IfKcadao dd 

Borgo. 

before wc quit thii «ubjcct of French art, we would nouce that 
(here arc two picturn of the YCmperor Napoleon to be teen at p r eaeat, 
one in Leicester-fieldt, which i* very bad, and another in the Adelphi, 
bv Lcfcbrrf which is tolerably good. The last is one of the bcfft 
French portraits wc have erer seen. The effect howercr b ooly 

?'ood» very nrar, and it best when each part it teen through a magni- 
ying gloss. There is considerable character, firmness of drawing, 
and prominence in the features. Still it does not convey an adequate 
idea of the man. It is heavy, perplexed, and sullen, without sufficaeot 
ficrceoeis or energy, and indeed without either the high or the bad 
qualities uf tlie nri;^tnal. It ban, notwiihHtanding, the appearance of 
being what is undcrsUHHl by a litithful likeness, and only w;inis that 
full dcvclopemcnt of the workings of the mind, which every portrait 
ought to have, and which, in a portrait like the present, would be 
invaluable. 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 

Tit CUm^.] [FetiruarY 5, 1S15. 

The Exhibition of this year, which opens to die public on Monday, 
is said to be inferior to the last : — that was said to be inferior to the 
one before it, — that to the preceding one, aod so on. This is the 
common cant respecting all lixhibitions; and the reason is obvious 
enough. We are naturally less struck by pictures of the same degree 
tod class of excellence, by the same artists, on repetition than at first 
ti^k; and the art appears to be retrograde, only because it is not 
progrnsire. Perhaps, however, there i* some foundatioo for the 
objectkm in the present insuncv. At least, we think there is a 
iaUiag-oir in the historical department : though that is the depart* 
mcM of the art which would least bear any kind of retrenchment. 
We do DM know whether to lay the blame of the detidency on those 
irtista, who bare been swsy this summer on their visit to the French 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 



capital, or on those who have remained behind. The picture in lh« 
branch of the art which pleased ua the most on looking into it, and 
which we conceive hai decidedly the greatest number of excellent 
parts, though the general effect is very far from nriking, is * Brutus 
exhorting the Roman/ to revenge the Death of Lucret'uiy by C. L, 
Eastlake. The artist will excuse us, if we say that we think the 
principal figure, that of Brutus^ by much the worst part of the picture. 
A more theatrical, and less impressive tigure we have seldom seen. 
He is quite an oraior of the modern stamp, and has nothing of the 
* antique Roman' about him. He is not a bit better than any of 
the blustering, canting, vapid, Canning school, and is evidently an 
orator to be disposed of. We would advise Mr. Eastlake to take a 
hint from a high quarter, and get rid of him, at any rate. The effect 
of the attitude of this figure, which is represented pointing with a 
Hword to the body of LucreUa^ behind him, is almost entirely lost by 
the want of distinct foreihortening and prominent relief.^ The figure 
oi Bruluj seems in a line with that of Lueretixi. Indeed, the same 
defect pervades the whole picture, which is laid-in like mosaic, and the 
general pale, stone-colour appearance of the drapery, and of the flesh, 
adds to this effect. No one figure comes out before the rest to the 
eye, till by tracing it down to the feel, you find where it stands. The 
dead figure of Z.ueretia herself is a complete piece of marble. We 
wish to notice more particularly, because it is an excellence very rare 
in an English artist, that the attention to costume in the decorations 
of the bier on which the dead body lies, and in the other ornaments 
in the back-ground of the picture, gives an additional air of truth and 
consequently of interest to the scene. The peculiar merit of this 
composition is the great variety of distinct faces and characteristic 
expressions to be found in it. These, if not of a very high order, 
arc at least much better than the pompous nonentities to which wc 
are accustomed. There is very little of passion or emotion given or 
attempted, but we think the expression of attention in the surrounding 
audience is varied very happily, and with great truth of nature. The 
most picturesque and interesting part of the picture is the groupe in 
which a girl with a back-figure is supporting (we suppose) the mother 
<^ L.ueretia. The expression of the countenance In the latter reminded 
ui of Annibal Caracci, and we arc always glad to be reminded of him. 
Certainly the same effect wan not produced upon our minds by the 
boy in the fore-ground, with sandy hair and weak eyes, who is crying 
so piteously : still less did wc like the figure of a man in the right 
hand corner, who is explaining the story to another with his fists 

' A radical objection to it, in point of compoittmn, ii, thai it il aHHi¥tsio|[ the 
ipectaior, snd ha» its back turn«il to (he auilieocc. 

»+3 




BRITISH INSTITUTION 

clenched, and in 3 boxing attitude. The model for 3 Roman warrior 
ii as little to be sought io a Fives Court, as of a Roman patriot 
in a debating society, or even (with leave be it spoken) in an English 
House of Commons. Wc have dwelt the longer on this picture, 
because its immediate effect on the eye is by no means in proportion 
to its real merit. The drab-coloured quakcrism of the tone conceals 
it from observation almost as much as if it had a veil over it. We 
do not really uoderstand the object of these sickJy half-tints, which 
all French artiats, and some of our own, alfect. Nicolas Poussin, 
who had no relief of tight and shade, had strong contrasts of colour : 
or even if he had had neither, the great distinctness of his outline, 
and his striking manner of telling the story, might still have formed a 
suflicient excuse for him. In short, the style of colouring adopted 
in this picture may^ for aught wc know, accord very well with some 
more artificial and recondite style of historical composition ; but wc 
are siire, it has nothing to do with natural expression, or immediate 
effect. 

It has been said, that » a great book is a great evil.' Wc think 
the same thing might be applied to pictures: or at least we should 
not instance the large picture in this collection of The Burial of our 
Lord, by C. Coventry, as an exception to the rule. We admit, 
however, that the face, dress, and figure of the old man holding the 
drapery over Christ, arc picturescjue, and in the tine manner of 
Rcmbrandu The attitude and action of this figure are exactly the 
same as tho«c of a similar figure in Mr. Bird's picture of the same 
subject. This is rather a singular coincidence in two pictures 
exhibited at the same time, and which it is therefore improbable to 
suppose could hare been copied one from the other. The other 
figures about Christ wc cannot bring ourseK'cs to admire : they 
resemble painted wood. The colour of the Christ is a livid purple, 
the worst of all possible colours. The women are better ; though 
the fine turn in the waist of one of them is not in the best style of 
history, which does not profess to exhibit women of fashion. 

Mr. Bird's picture of The Enlnmhmenl of Christy ts, we conceive, 
very inferior to his picture last year of Job and ku Friendj. The 
colouring is equally Ixid, and the composition is not equally good. 
There ts one pretty figure of a girl, but her prettiness is not an 
advantage to the subject. In all things, * It is place which lessens 
and sets off.' Mr. Bird constantly introduces the extremities of the 
hands and feet into his pictures, only to show how ill he can paint 
them. The picture of The Surrender of Calais has been already 
before the public. 

Among the historical pictures, we suppoac from its name, we must 

944 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 

rank that of the Prophet Ezra, by G. Haytcr, though it do«s not 
appear to us to belong to the class. It is a fioe, rich, and strongly 
painted picture of a man reading a book. The being able to copy 
nature with inith and effect is not history, though we think, it is the 
6rst Btep to it. In this picture, which we believe is a first essay, 
Mr. Hayter has not redeemed the pledge he gave in his miniatures. 
If we could paint such miniatures as he does, we would do nothing 
but paint miniatures always; and laugh at the advertisements of great 
historical pictures in the newspapers. The St, Bernard^ by the 
same artist, is very indifferent. 

Mr. Harlowe's Hubert and Arthur is the greatest piece of cox- 
combry and absurdity we remember to have seen. We do not think 
that any one who pleases has a right to paint a libel on Shakspeare. 

The generality of ihe historical pictures in the gallery arc such as 
have been always painted, and as will always be painted, in spite of 
all that can be said to the contrary, and therefore it is as well to eay 
nothing about them. 

Miss Jackson's Mars suhjued by Peace is a very pleasing composi- 
tion. Both the face and expression of the figure of Peace are those 
oi a very beautiful and interesting girl, though from the tender 
pensiveness of the features she seems rather as if sending Mars out to 
battle than disarming him ; and as to the God of War himself, he 
does Dot look like one whom * deep scars of thunder have intrenched,' 
but as if he had been kept a long time at home in a lady's chamber. 
The Cupids (when Ladies imagine Cupids, what can they be less ?) 
are very nice, little, chubby fellows. 

There are two pictures of The Siri Pigeon and The Favourite 
Kitten by Miss Geddes, both of which we like, gallantry out of the 
question. The kitten in the last is exquisitely painted. You may 
almost hear it purring. 

Among the foreign contributors to this department we ought to 
mention Music, by M. Messora, in the manner of the early Italian 
masters, and Devotion, a small picture by J. Laschallas, which is hung 
almost out of sight, and which, if it were hung a little lower, we 
suspect, would be found to be ' a good picture and a true.' 

To the scene from the Marriage of Figaro^ by Chalon, no praise 
of ours could add the slightest grace or lustre. We wonder where 
he got the figure of his Susan, or how he dared to paint her ! 

In the domestic scenes, and views of interiors, &c. this exhibition 
is much like the former ones, except that we miss Collins, and fmd 
no one to replace him. 

Of the landscapes, Burnett's, Fielding's, Nasmyth's, Hofland's, 
and Glover's are the best. In Mr. Glover's large picture of Jacob 

«4S 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 

tfu/ LaBan (which ve bcltrre wat exhibited and much admired m 
Paris), there is a want of harmony and lightoeu in the whole: but 
there is a groupc of trees in the fore-ground, which Claude himself 
would DOt have disdained to borrow. Mr. Hodaod's landscapes, 
without being much finished, have th« look, the tcmc, and freshoeM 
of nature. The y^'uw of Edinburgh ift, we think, the best. Some 
of the others are too ranch abstractions of aerial perspective : they 
are naked and cold, and represent not the objects of nature so much 
as the medium through which they are seen. Wc will only add, in 
oor profeuional capacity, that this gentleman's pictures shew them- 
selves, and that he need not be at the trouble of shewing them. 
Nasmyth's pictures are not too much finished, but they want a certain 
breadth, which nature always adds to perfect finishing. Fielding is 
a new and rooit promising artist, of whom we mean to say more. 
Of the two Burnetts, wc shall only remark at present, that they 
have made no addition to their live-stock since last year, which 
consisted then, as it does now, of one black, one yellow, and one 
•potted cow. 



THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED 

TMt Ciumfi<m.\ [Fiiruary iz, iSiS- 

Cottaie ChUd at Breaifait, W. Collins, A.R.A. This is a pleasing 
little picture, but inferior to Mr. Collinses general performances. The 
shadow cast on the wall is like plaster of a darker colour, nor should 
we have suspected it to be meant for shadow, had it not been pointed 
out to ui. Reaperj, by the same artist, is a still greater falling off". 
The mixture of minute finishing and slovenliness in the execution, 
and of blues and yellows in the colouring of this picture is to us very 
unaccountable. 

Devotion, ^. I.aschallas. We wish that we could conjure this 
little picture out of its frame to have a nearer view. The drawing, 
expression, tone, and composition appear to us admirable. 

ji Scoldutg U^fe ; htr Husband Laving rpmt all his Monty al the 
Fairy L. CoBse. This is not a very pleasant subject, nor very 
pleasantly treated. The little child blowing the trumpet is the pretty 
part of the picture. There is one figure of a woman in a blue stulT 
gown, sitting by the fire-side, in an attitude of yawning, which both 
for the truth of the colouring and the action, is inimitable. 

^ Country Scene, by the same, has the hard brickdusty tone which 
there is in the faces of the other picture; but the expression is 
natural and good. 
246 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 



j4 Colour-Grinder, R. T. Bone, is a spirited aod faithful imitation 
of nature, 

A Stvdy from Nature^ J. Harrison, is a well-painted head. At 
the same time, there is something about it very unpleasant to us. 

Hebe and Sunrise^ by H. Howard, R.A., were, we believe, in last 
year's Exhibition at Somerset -house. There is a certain grace and 
elegance in both of them. The fantastic, playtiil lightness of the 
figures in the last is perhaps carried to a degree of affectation. The 
^es of the Pleiades arc very pretty and very insipid. 

Conrade and Gulnare, H. Singleton. We could neither undertUnd 
this picture nor the lines from Lord Byron's Corsair^ which are 
intended to explain the subject of it. 

Brului exhorting the Remanj to revenge the Death of Lucretia, Of 
this compoaition we find we hare already said quite enough. 

yieiv of Arthur^! Seat near Edinburgh^ P. Nasmyth, is a very nicely 
painted landscape. We like all this gentleman's landscapes, exce{^ 
yf yiew of Edinburgh^ which is just like a painting on a tea-board. 

Breaking the Ice^ by James Burnett, is a very delightful picture. It 
has the effect of walking out in a fine winter's morning. Many 
incidental associations are very happily introduced ; the pigeons 
collected on the thatch of a shed, and the robin- redbreast perched 
in a window of an out houee. The pigeons are, however, too small, 
and the colour on the breast of the robin is on fire. Perhaps these 
objections are too minute. The pigeon-house looks suspended io the 
air, and the sky and branches of the trees seen against it are painted 
with admirable brilliancy. Peasants going to Market^ by the same 
artist, is of equal merit. The skirt of the drapery of the peasant 
girl lookn as if the tun shone directly upon it. The docks in the 
foreground of the picture are very highly 6niEhed, and touched with 
great spirit, but wc never saw this kind of plant of the lightish green 
colour, which is here given to it. 

Miiiingt by John Burnett, is a very brilliant little picture. The 
red dress of the girl at the milk-pail is as rich as possible. The trees 
at a little distance are too much in sharp points and touches. The 
cattle io the landscapes of both the painters of this name are too much 
in heavy masses, and form too violent a contrast to the lightness of 
the landscape about them. 

The fVatering Place^ P. H. Rogers, deserves considerable praise, 
both for the colouring and composition. 

Bankt of the Tbameiy J. WiUon, is a very clever picture. The 
foreground and the distance are equally well painted { but they do 
not appear in keeping. The one is quite clear, and the other 
covered with haze. 

J47 



BRITISH INSTITUTION 

Mormngj and Fwat Jrom Rydal IVoods, by C. V, Fielding, arc 
both maslerty performances. The last, in particular, is a rich, mellow 
landscape, and presents a fine, woody, and romantic scene, which in 
some degree calls utf our admiration from the merit of the ardst to 
the beauties of nature. This is a sacri^ce of self-love which many 
of our artists do not seem willing tu make. They too often chuse 
their subjects, not to exhibit the charms of nature, but to display 
their own skill in making something of the most barren subjects. 

We think this objection applies to Mr. Holland's landscapes in 
general. The scene he selects is represented with great truth and 
felicity of pencil, but it is, generally speaking, one we sliould neither 
wish to look at, nor to be in. In his Loi^h-Lomond and Stirling 
Castle, the c^ect of the atmosphere is tioely given ; but this is all. 
Wc wish to enter our protest against this principle of separating the 
imitation from the ihtng imitated^ particularly as it is countenanced by 
the authority of the ablest landscape painter of the present day, of 
whose landscapes some one said, that *thcy were pictures of nothing, 
and very like ! * 



THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED 

TimCiam^.'] [Fthniary 19, 1815. 

Battle-piece^ B. Barker, is a sjiirited sketch, harmoniously coloured. 
In force of drawing and expression, it is inferior to The Standard^ by 
Ab. Cooper. There is too violent an opposition of white and black 
in the horses in this picture; and the eye does not immediately 
connect the heads of the animals with the rest of their bodies. This 
picture, however, displays great knowledge of the subject, and 
considerable strength of composition, ji Study from Nature^ by the 
same artist, Ab. Cooper, is a masterly little picture. Birdt, from 
nature, and Plovers, from nature, by M. Chantry, are both excellent 
in their kind. 

Fie^ of Richmond^ Torhhtre, by W. Westall, A.R.A. is deficient 
in perspective and in other respects. The river below seems to be 
on a level with the high foreground from which it is seen. The 
representing declivities by means of aerial jjerspcctive is, we believe, 
one of the difficulties of the art, and we do not remember any success- 
ful instances of it, excejrt in some of Wilson's landscapes. 

A Bey lamenting the Death of his Favourite Rabhity W, Davison, 
is a very pleasing composition in the style of Gainsborough. The 
landscape has too much the blue greenish hue and slender execution 
of Gainsborough's backgrounds. The boy is well painted. There 

248 



WILKIE'S PICTURES 

is a picture of this kind by Murillo in the collection at Dulwich, 
which we would earnestly recommend to every painter of such 
lubjccts. Or we might as well, in other wotds^ recommend them 
to look, at nature. 

Forest Seem, by J. Stark, is painted with great truth of colour and 
effect. 

Siofkiitg Hay^ P. Dewint, has great merit. 

Jacob taiinj^ charge of the Fhtkt and Herdt of Lahan, J. Glover. 
We have already spoken of this picture. The group of tall green 
trees in the foreground is excellent, but there is a leaden tone spread 
over the rest of the picture, which is neither gratifying to the eye, 
Dor true to nature. 

The Emperor Alexandery in his Drotcbi^ by A, Sauerweide, is like 
all the other pictures^ busts, &c. we have seen of him, and not at 
all like the descriptions we have heard of his fine person and 
countenance. 

The Duie of fVeltmgton atlacHitg the Rear of Marshal Soult*s Army 
on ihc Pont de M'tstraft over the Great fall of Salamondlj and pursuing 
them through the Passes of the Sierra Morone in Portugal^ 1809, from 
1 sketch by Major-general Hawker, by Perry Nursey. This is not 
a good picture ; but it gives one a good idea of the sport which is to 
be found in this sort of royal game. In looking at it we have 
something like ocular demonstration of the truth of what Cowper, 
the poet, says — 

* War i* a game, which were their subjects wise, 
Kings woiikl not play at I ' 



ON MR. WILKIE'S PICTURES 
The Ckempkn.'\ [Martk ;» 1815, 

Ih one of Archbishop Herring's letters, written during a tour in 
Wales, is the following very picturesque description of a scetie at an 
ion. * I set out upon this adventurous journey on a Monday morning, 
accompanied (as bishops usually are) by my chancellor, my chaplain, 
secretary, two or three fricndB, and our servants. The first part of 
our road lay across the foot of a long ridge of rocks, and was over 
a dreary morass, with here and there a small dark cottage, a few 
sheep and more goats in view, but not a bird to be seen, save, now 
and then, a solitary hern, watching for frogs. At the end of four of 
their miles, we got to a small village, where the view of things 
mended a little, and the road and the time were beguiled by travelling 
for three miles along the side of a fme lake, full of fish, and trans- 

249 



WILKIE'S PICTURES 



parent as glass. That pleasure OTcr, our work became very arduous, 
for we were to mount a rock, and in many places of the road, over 
natural tuirs of stooe. I submitted to this, which, they lold me, 
was but a taste of the country, and to prepare me for worse tilings to 
come. However, worse things did not come that morning, for we 
dined soon after out of our own wallets ; and though our inn stood in 
a place of the most frightful solitude, and the best formed for the 
habiution of monks (who once possessed it) in the world, yet we 
made a cheerful meal. The novelty of the thing gave me spirits, and 
the air gave me appetite, much keener than the knife I ate with. We 
had our music too ; for there came in a harper, who soon drew about 
us a group of figures, that Hogarth would give any price for. The 
harper was in his true place and attitude ; a man and a woman stood 
before him, singing to his instrument wildly, but not disagreeably ; 
a little diny child was playing with the bottom of the harp ; a woman, 
in a sick night-cap, hanging over the stairs; a boy with crutches, 
6xed in a staring attention, and a girl carding wool in the chimney, 
and rocking a cradle with her naked feet, interrupted in her business 
by the charms of the music ; alt ragged and dirty, and all silently 
attentive. These figures gave us a niottt entertaining picture, and 
would please you, or any man of observation ; and one reflection gave 
me particular comfort, that the assembly before us demonetrntcd, that, 
even here, the inllucniia] sun warmed poor mortals, and inspired them 
with love and music* 

The figures in this description form a very striking group, and we 
should like much to see them transferred to the canvass. Those of 
the girl with naked feet rocking the cradle, the little child playing 
with the bottom of the harp, and the man and woman singing wildly 
before it are the most bcautiiiil. There is one observation made by 
the writer to which we do not assent, that the figures are such as 
Hogarth would have given any price for. We doubt whether he 
would have meddled with them at all, for there was no one who 
understood his own powers better, or more seldom went out of his 
way. His forte was eatire, he painted the follies or vices of men, 
and wc do not know that there is a single picture of his, containing 
a representation of merely natural or domestic scenery. The subject 
described in the passage we have given above would have exactly 
suited an excellent painter of the present day, we mean Mr. Wilkie ; 
and would indeed form a very delightful companion to his Blind 
Fiddler. With all our admiration of this last-mentioned composition, 
we think the story described by the bishop clearly has the poetry on 
its side. 

The highest authority on art in this country, we understand, 

250 



WILKIE'S PICTURES 

ha* pronounced that Mr. Willcie united the excellences of HogarA 
to chose of Teniers. Wc demur to this decision, in both in 
branches ; but in demurring to authority^ it is necessary to give our 
reasons. We conceive that this excellent and deservedly admired 
ftitise has certain essential, real, and indisputable excellences of his 
own; and we think it, therefore, the lees important to clothe him 
with any vicarious merits, which do not belong to him. 

Mr. Wllkie'a pictures, generally speaking, derive almost their 
whole merit from their reoTttjf or the truth of the representation. 
They are works of pure imitative art, and the test of this style of 
composition is to represent nature, faithfully and happily, in its 
simplest combinations. It may be said of an artist, like Mr. Wilkie, 
that nothing human h indiffertntto him. His mind takes an interest in, 
and it gives an interest to, the most familiar scenes and transactions 
of life. He professedly gives character, thought, and passion in their 
lowest degrees, and every-day forms. He selects the commonest 
events and appearances of nature for his Ruhjects ; and trusts to thetr 
very commonness for the interest and amusement he is to excite. Mr. 
Wilkic is a serious, prosaic, literal narrator of facts, and his pictures 
may be considered as diaries, or minutes of what is passing constantly 
about us. Hogarth, on the contrary, is essentially a comic painter t 
his pictures are not indifferent, unimpaesioned descriptions of human 
nature, but rich, exuberant satires upon it. He is carried away by a 
passion for the rifiiculous. His object is *to shew vice her own 
feature, scorn her own image.' He is so far from contenting himself 
with still life, that he is always on the verge of caricature, though 
without ever falling into it. He does not represent folly or vice in 
its incipient, or dormant, or grub state, but full grown, with wings, 
pampered into all sorts of affectation, airy, ostentatious, and extrava- 
gant. Folly is there seen at the height — the moon is at the full — it 
is 'the very error of the lime.* There is a perpetual collision of 
eccentricities — a tilt and tournament of absurdities — the prejudices 
and caprices of mankind are let loose, and set together by the ears, as 
in a bear-garden. Hogarth paints nothing but comedy, or tragi* 
comedy. Wilkie paints neither one nor the other. Hogarth never 
looks at any object but to 5nd out a moral or a ludicrous effect. 
Wilkic never looks at any object but to see that it is there. 
Hogarth*8 pictures arc a perfect jest-book from one end to the other. 
We do not remember a single joke in Wilkie'a, except one very bad 
one of the boy in The Blind Fiddler, scraping the gridiron, or fire- 
shovel, we forget which.* In looking at Hogarth, you are ready to 

^ The waiter drawing the cork in the Rnt-diy, tt mother eaccpitoo, and qoite 
Hogirthtan< 

«5> 




WILKIE'S PICTURES 

burst your sidei with laughing at the unaccountable jumble of odd 
things, which are brought together : you look at Wilkic's pictnrct 
with a mingled feeling of curiosity and admiration at the accuracy of 
the represcQtation. For insuncc, there is a most admirable head of a 
man coughing in The Rent-Day : the action, the keeping, the 
choaked sensation arc inimitable : but there is nothing to laugh at in 
a man coughing. What striken the mind is the diiTiculty of a man's 
bciDg painted coughing, which here certainly is a master-piece of art. 
But turn to the black-guard cobler in the Election Dinner, who has 
been smutting his neighbour's face over, and who is lolling his tongue 
out at the joke with a most surprising obliquity of vision, and 
immediately 'your lungs begin to crow like chanticleer/ Again, 
there is the little boy crying in The Cut Finger, who only gives you 
the idea of a cross, disagreeable, obstinate child in pain : whereas the 
the same face in Hogarth's Noon, from the ridiculous perplexity it is 
in, and its extravagant, noisy, unfelt distress at the accident of having 
let fall the pye-dish, is quite irresistible. Mr. Wilkie in his picture 
of the Ale-houBc door, wc believe, painted Mr. Liston as one of the 
figures, without any great effecL Hogarth would have given any 
price for such a subject, and would have made it worth any money. 
Wc have never seen any thing, in the expression of comic humour, 
equal lo Hogarth's pictures, but Liston's face ! 

Wc have already remarked that we did not think Hogarth a fit 
person to paint a romantic scene io Wales. In fact, we know no 
one who had a less pastoral imagination. Mr. Wilkie paints interiors: 
but Rtill you always connect them with the country. Hogarth, even 
when he paints people in the open air, repre«ent« them either as 
coming from London, as in the polling for votes at Brentford, or as 
returning to it, as the dyer and his wife at Bagnigge Wells. In this 
last picture he has contrived to convert a common mral image into 
a type and emblem of city cuckoldom. He delights in the thick 
of St. Giles's or St. .lamcs'a. His pictures breathe a certain close 
greasy tavern air. The fare he serves up to us consists of high- 
scaaoned dishes, ragouu and ulla ]KKlridas, like the supper in Gil Bias, 
which it requires a strong stomach to digest. Mr. Wilkie presents 
us with a sort of Icnien fare, very good and wholesome, but rather 
insipid than overpowering.^ 

Ai an artist, Mr. Wilkie is not at all equal to Tenters. Neither 
in truth and brilliant clearness of colouring, nor in facility of execu- 
tion, is there any comparison. Tcniers was a perfect master in both 

' Mr. Witkie'i pictures are in general moch better painted than Hogarth's t 
but lite Marrisge i-la-mode it superior both in colour and execution io any of 
Wilkie-i. 



ON ROCHEFOUCAULT'S MAXIMS 

these respects, and our own countryman is positiTcly defective, noC< 
withstanding the very laudable care with which he finishefl every part 
of his pictures. There is an evident smear and dragging of the paint, 
which is also of a bad purple, or puttyiah tone, and which never 
appear in the pictures of the Flemish artist, any more than in a 
looking-glass. Tcnicrs, probably from his facility of execution, 
succeeded in giving a more local and momentary expression to his 
figures. They Heem each going on with his particular amusement or 
occupation ; while Wilkic^s have in general more a look of sitting for 
their pictures. Their compositions arc very different also : and in 
this resjject, perhaps, Mr. Wilkie has the advantage. Teniers's 
boors are usually amusing themselves at skittles, or dancing, or 
drinking, or smoking, or doing what they like in a careless desultory 
way ; and so the composition is loose and irregular. Wilkic's figures 
are all drawn up in a regular order, and engaged in one principal 
action, with occasional episodes. The story of the Blind Fiddler is 
the most interesting, and the best told. The two children before the 
musician are delightful. The Card-players is the best coloured of 
his pictures, if we are not mistaken. The Politicians, though 
excellent as to character and composition, is inferior as a picture to 
those which Mr. Wilkie has since painted. His latest pictures, 
however, do not appear to us to be bis best. There is something of 
manner and affectation in the grouping of the figures, and a pink and 
rosy colour spread over them, which is out of place. The hues of 
Rubens and Sir Joshua do not agree with Mr. Wilkie's subjects. 
The picture which he has just finished of Distraining for Rent is 
very highly spoken of by those who have seen it. We must here 
conclude this very general account; for to point out the particular 
beauties of any one of our artist's pictures, would require a long 
article by itsclK 



ON ROCHEFOUCAULT'S MAXIMS. 

^TJkt Exdmintr,] [Ottettr 23, 1814. 

The celebrated maxims of Rochefoucault contain a good deal of 
truth mixed op with more falsehood. They might in general be 
easily reversed. The whole artifice of the author consists in availing 
himaelf of the mixfJ nature of motives, bo as to detect some indirect 
or sinister bias even in the best, and he then proceeds to argue as if 
they were simple^ that is, had but one principle, and that principle the 
worst. By the same extreme mode of reasoning which he adopts, 
that is, by taking the exception for the rule, it might be shewn that 

»S3 



ON ROCHEFOUCAULTS MAXIMS 



there is oo sach thing as aelfishoess, pride, TaDity. rerenge, envy, &c. 
in our nature, with quite as much plausibility as he has attempted to 
shew that there ii no such thing as love, friendship, gratitude, 
generosity, or true bencTolcnce. If the slightest associated circum- 
stance, or latent impulse connected with our actions, is to be magniiicd 
into the whole motive, merely by the microscopic acutencss which 
discovered it, why not complete the paradox, by resolving our vices 
into some pretence to virtue, which almost always accompanies and 
qualiiies them? Or is it to be taken for granted that our vices are 
sincere, and our virtues only hypocrisy and affectation? Shakespeare 
has given a much simpler and better account of the matter, when he 
says, * The web of our life is of a minglcti yarn : our virtues would be 
proud, if our faults whipped them not; and our vices would despair, 
if they were not cherished by our virtues.' The most favourable 
representations of human nature are not certainly the most popular. 
The character of Sir Charles GranJiton is insipid compared with tliat 
of Lovf/aUf as Safan is the hero of Paradisf Lost% and Mandevitle'a 
Fabie of the Beet is read with more interest and avidity than the 
Practice of Piety or Grove's £thiei. Whatever deviates from the 
plain path of duty, o: contradicts received opimons, seems to imply a 
strength of will, or a strength of undersuoding, which seizes forcibly 
on the attention. Whether it is fortitude or cowardice, or both, 
there is a strong propensity in the human mind, if its suspicions are 
once raised, to inow the morjt. It is the same in speculation as in 
practice. When once the fairy dream in which we have lulled our 
senses or imagination is disturbed, we only feci ourselves secure from 
the delusions of self-love by distrusting appearances altogether, and 
revenge ourselves for the cheat which we think has been put upon u% 
by laughing at the credulity of those who arc still its dupes.' Fvco 
the very love of virtue makes the mind ])roportionabIy impatient of 
every thing like doubt respecting it, and prompts us to escape from 
tormenting suspense in total indifference, as jealousy cures itself by 
destroying its object. The FahU of the Bees^ the Maxims of Roche- 
foucauitt the Treatise on tin Falsity of Human Viriuei^ and the book 
De PFsprit have owed much of their popularity to the consolation 
they afforded to disappointed hope. However this may be, a collec- 
tion of amiable paradoxes on the other side of the question, would 
have but few readers. There would be less point and satire, though 

1 *An<I ie« 1 how dark the backward ttream 
A liltle moment put haw imitnig ! 
And itttl perbapi, with fiithlui gleam, 
Some other loiterer beguilia|.' 



H'ordnovtk* 



*i4 



ON ROCHEFOUCAULTS MAXIMS 



there would not be less truth nor, a« far as the analytical proceu \b 
concerned, le8» ingenuity, in exalting our bad qualities into virtues, 
than in debasing our good ones into vices. I will give an example or 
two of what I meani 

Tbufi, it might be argued that there is no such thing as envy : or 
thai what is called by that name, does not (if strictly examined) 
arise from a hatred ot real excellence, but from a suspicion that the 
excellence is not real, or not so great as it is supposed to be, and 
consequently that the preference given to others is an act of injustice 
done to ourselves. For whenever all doubt is removed of the reality of 
the excellence, either from our own convictions, or from the con- 
current opinion of mankind in general, envy ceases. This is the 
reason why the reputation of the dead never excites this passion, 
because it has been fully established by the most unequivocal 
testimony, it has received a sanction which fills the imagination and 
gains the assent at once, and the fame of the great men of past times 
is placed beyond the reach of envy, because it is placed beyond the 
reach of doubt. We feel no misgivings as to the solidity of their 
pretensions, nor any apprehension that our admiration or praise will 
be thrown away on what docs not deserve it. No one envies Shake- 
speare or Rubens, because no one entertains the least doubt of their 
genius. Wc are as prodigal of our admiration of universally acknow- 
ledged excellence, making a sort of religious idolatry of it, as wc are 
niggardly and cautious in lixiog the stamp of our approbation on that 
which may turn out to be only counterfeit. It h not because we are 
competitors with the living and not with the dead : but because the 
claims of the one are fully established, and of the other not. Why 
else indeed are we competitors with the one and not with the other i 
Accordingly, where living merit is so clear as to bring immediate 
and entire conviction to the mind, we are no longer disposed to stint 
or withhold our applause, any more than to dispute the light of the 
san. For instance, who ever felt the least difficulty in acknowledging 
the merits of Wilkie or Turner, merely because these artists are now 
living f If immediate celebrity has not always been the reward of 
extraordinary genius, this has been owing to the incapacity of the 
public to judge of the highest works of art. There is no want of 
instances where the popular opinion has outstripped the claims o( 
justice, whenever the merits of the artist were on a level with the 
common understanding, and of an obvious character. Sir .Toshua 
Reynolds had his full nhare of popularity in his life-time. Raphael 
Mengs was cried up by his countrymen and contemporaries as equal 
to Raphael ; and Mr. West at present stands as high in the estima- 
tion of the public as he does in his own. On the other hand, and in 

*55 



ON ROCHEFOUCAULT S MAXIMS 



dcxterouily applied, or an appeal to ignorant credulity, a man 'geti 
the start of the majestic world,' and obtains the highest character for 
quaJities which he does not possess. It becomes an imposture and an 
insult, which we resent as such. 

The jealousy and uneasiness produced in the mind by a pedantic or 
dazzling display of useless accomplishments may be traced to a similar 
source. Hence the old objection, materiam lupa-abat ofiur. True 
warmth and vigour communicate warmth and vigour : and we are no 
longer inclined to dispute the inspiration of the oracle, when we feel 
the ' presens Divus * in our own bosoms. But when without gaining 
any new light or heat, we only find our ideas thrown into coolu&ion 
and perplexity by an art that we cannot comprehend, this is a kind 
of superiority which must always be painful, and can ncTer be cordially 
admitted. It is for this reason that the extraordinary talents of the 
late Mr. Pitt were always viewed, except by those of his own party, 
with a sort of jealousy, and grudgingly acknowledged : while those of 
his more popular rivals were admitted by all parties in the most 
unreiervcd manner, and carried by acclamation. Mr. Burke was 
scouted only by the common herd of politicians, who did not under- 
stand him. So OD the stage, we imagine Mrs. Siddons could hardly 
have excited envy or jealousy in the breast of any person, not totally 
devoid of common sensibility : because her talents bore down all 
opposition, and filled the mind at once with delight and awe. Mr. 
Kean has a strong and most absurd party against him : but we will 
venture to say that if his figure, or hii voice, or his judgment, were 
better, that is, if he had fewer defects, he would have fewer detractors 
from his excellencies. Any peculiar defects excite ridicule and 
enmity by bringing the whole claim to our applause into question. 
A perfect actor would not be an object of envy even to some news- 
paper critics. Perfect beauty excites this feeling less among women 
than half pretensions to it. In the same manner, upstart wealth or 
newly acquired honours produce contempt rather than respect, from 
not being accompanied with any strong or permancDt associations of 
pleasure or power. There is nothing more apt to occasion the 
feeling of envy than the nudden and unexpected rise of persons wc 
have long known under different circumstances, not from the 
immediate comparison with ourselves (the extravagant admiration of 
each other's talents among friends is an answer to this supposition) so 
much as from the disbelief of the reality of thetr pretensions, and our 
inability to overcome our previous prejudice against them* It is the 
same where striking mental inequalities exist, or where the moral 
properties render us averse to acknowledge merit of a different kind, 
or where the countenance or manner does not denote genius. Every 
VOL. xt. : R aj7 



PJIEDOMINANT PBINCIPLES IN THE MI>D 



I dK mmotttf m 






i6em ■> i ij UBMi ir id k. I hs«e 

: ^a^Af ii ifacsi, Tlin«gli ifaef voe le niBi Eke 
1 eacr fcovd a very laiiilc ■» ay, tb« if Sir ham 
fiiperf, kc GonU aoc btaie faaatd hiB to be a pas ai 

■9MF SCk 9 jBttMy 01 pfCttMMM VHCB 1 IBM^S I 

VWf tM I IKV8 kw vnS csvy of pc tMHto V 
■iiWid Ckr to W pgi dov» by pcnoM I dofii^ i 
rtiig !■ a «ara» «c fad tfae on 

aiiBBafC|0Ov je^OM of oar own 

( vndi -wbit it lookft ^ «aii «d ii aifamdof aof 

' It Bi^ V^^ O^cr tBOK VBOB It nigBQl Oi OCTV^ O^^BV 

fovcn aad frcHaoiooa. The idra «f 6vk it too pveiBd aacnd lo 
hcai^^ed nk oor ova. Oar idHirabooof odms it luu f u ifaa 
OTv vjuiiij' < oof ^**^*** It tnxt "Hw* vliiui BM DO flncf noi ool 
■etfl It ii the waos of ail real tmanBacioo and cackaaaiHiy cf daft 
Mttc nittsaif aaio <■ pctaopal coocgw vnidb ■OKfo^ada cwEry 
ron^hsaDf obb ooet doc hoet oioi Co icc or iscl ^oy f^ia^ ocyoBd 
i^ tfcat aMko ilie Frcsdi pobifo the Moit ooatCHptUe peo(4e k 



ON THE PREDOMINANT PRINCIPLES AND 
EXaTEMENTS IN THE HUMAN MINB 

*71c web of ew Imi i>af a miaikri yam.* 
Tlr F ■ .] [A^«»y aft. tlis. 

* AjnraoDT Cooam Uacxtu, a moct leaned md oafanaaaK Itafiaa* 
faora 1446^ vaa a «rikiB£ iaaoaoc* (aya bn toq giayh a) 'of tbe 

BBKncB neo tarsag opoo tacnaenos by wtriog toetr ascctiuai aa- 
RMoaafaiy oa tnflciu l~bsf teamed naa nvcd at porfey aad nad aa 
MrtBcaK it ^ palace. His rooB vai ao very darfc. thai he wa» 
breed to oae a candle io die day due; aadoorday, goiag abroad 
witDoot pottzBg It oiM, lua ubrary was act oa ■xc* aad aoMe papers 
which be had arcpaFed tor the prcaa vcre faaroed. Toe ■Kaoc be 
vai nfionDod of tmi vi aevs, he aaa a ftctrd rrra lo ^adacH. He 



he cried; 



to the palace, and, MopfMip afttfae door of faii 



hMCl. 



■ChriatJcaBa! whacai^hty 
whom of yov faBowcta bare I ever njorad. that yoa thai lase widi 
iocypiahle hacred ^ataat me ? " Tbeo tvaaig Umaeif m aa iaiage 
of the Virgin Mary near at hand, "Virgin '* {0^% he) •• bear what 

2J8 



PREDOMINANT PKINCIPLES IN THE MIND 



I have to tay, for I speak in earnest, and with a composed spirit. If 
I shall happen to address you in my dying moments, I humbly entreat 
you not to hear me, nor receive me into heaven, for I am determined 
to spend all eternity in hell." Those who heard these blasphemous 
expressions endeavoured to comfort him, but all to no purpose ; for, 
the society of mankind being no longer supporuble to him, he left, 
the city, and retired, like a savage, to the deep Kolitude of a wood. 
Some say he was murdered there by rufHans; others that he died 
at Bologna, in i 500, after much contrition and penitence.' 

Almost every one may here read the history of his own life. 
There is scarcely a moment in which we are not in some degree 
guilty of the same kind of absurdity, which was here carried to such 
a singular excess. We waste our regrets on what cannot be recalled, 
or fix our desires on what we know cannot be attained. Every hour 
is the slave of the last ; and we arc seldom masters either of our 
thoughts or of our actions. We are the creatures of imagination, 
passion, and self-will, more than of reason or even of self-interest. 
Rousseau, in his Hmilius, proposed to educate a perfectly reasonable 
man, who was to have passions and affections like other men, but with 
an absolute control over them. He was to love and to be wise. This 
is a contradiction in terms. Even in the common transactions and 
daily intercourse of life, we are governed by whim, caprice, prejudice, 
or accident. The falling of a tea-cup puts us out of temper for the 
day ; and a quarrel that commenced about the pattern of a gown may 
end only with our lives. 



'Friends now fiwt sworn, 
On a (lissenBion of a doit, farexk out 
To bliierest enmity. So felle»i foes. 
Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep,' 
To lake the one the other, by »ome chance. 
Some trick not worth an egg, Uiall grow dear friends, 
And interjoin tlieir issues.' 



^H We are little better than humoured children to the last, and play a 
^^ mischievous game at cross purposes with our own happiness and that 
of others. 

We have given the above story as a striking contradiction to the 
prevailing doctrine of modern systems of morals and metaphysics, 
that man is purely a sensual and selfish animal, governed solely by a 
regard either to his immediate gratitlcation or future interest. This 
doctrine we mean to oppose with all our might, whenever we meet 
with it. We are, however, less disposed to quarrel with it, as it is 
opposed to reason and philosophy, than as it interferes with common 

»59 



PREDOMINANT PRINCIPLES IN THE MIND 

atate and. observation. If the absurdity in question had been confined 
to the schooia, we should not have gone out of our way to meddle 
with it : but it has got abroad to the world, has crept into ladies* 
toiletteSf is entered to the common-place of beaux* is in the month of 
the learned and ignorant^ and forms a part of popular opinion. It is 
perpetually applied as a false measure to the characters and conduct 
of men in the common affairs of the world, aud it is therefore our 
business to rectify ic if we can. In fact, whoever sets out on the 
idea of reducing all our motives and actions to a simple principle, 
must either take a very narrow and superficial view of human nature, 
or make a very perverse use of his understanding in reasoning on what 
he sees. The frame of our minds, like that of our bodies, is 
exceedingly complicated. Besides mere sensibility to pleasure and 
pain, there are other original independent principles, necessarily inter- 
woven with the nature of man as an active and intelligent being, and 
whichj blended together in different proportions, give their form and 
colour to our lives. Without some other essential faculties, such as 
will, imagination, Sec, to give effect and direction to our physical 
sensibility, this faculty could be of no possible one or influence; and 
with those other faculties joined to it, this pretended instinct of self- 
love will be subject to be everlastingly modified and controlled by 
those faculties, both in what regards our own good and that of others ; 
that is, must itself become in a great measure dependent on the very 
instruments it uses. The two most predominant principles in the 
mind, besides sensibility and self-interest, are imagination and self- 
will, or (in general) the love of strong excitement, both in thought 
and action. To these sources may be traced the various passions, 
pursuits, habits, affections, follies and caprices, virtues and vices of 
mankind. We shall confine ourselves in the present article, to give 
some account of the inBuence exercised by the imagination over the 
feelings. To an intellectual being, it cannot be altogether arbitrary 
what ideas it shall have, whether pleasurable or painful. Our ideas 
do not originate in our love of pleasure, and they cannot therefore 
depend absolutely upon it. They have another principle. If the 
imagination were.' *the servile slave* of our aelf-love, if our ideas were 
emanations of our sensitive nature, encouraged if agreeable, and 
excluded the insrant they became otherwise, or encroached on the 
former principle, then there might be a tolerable pretence for the 
Epicurean philosophy which is here spoken of. But for any such 
entire and mechanical subserviency of the operations of the one 
principle to the dictates of the other, there is not the slightest founda- 
tion in reality. The attention which the mind gives to its ideas is 
not always owing to the gratification derived from them, but to the 
260 



PREDOMINANT PRINCIPLES IN THE MIND 

strength and truth of the imprescions themselves, i.e. to their inrolun* 
lary power orer the mind. This obicTTacion will account for a very 
general principle in the mind, which cannot, we conceive, be satis- 
factorily explained in any other way, we mean the power of fascination. 
Every one has heard the story of the girl who being left alone by 
her companions, in order to frighten her, in a room with a dead body, 
at first attempted to get out, and shrieked violently for assistance, but 
finding herself shut in, ran and embraced the corpse, aikI was found 
senseless in its arms. 

It is said that in such cases there is a desperate effort made to get 
rid of the dread by converting it into the reality. There may be 
some truth in this account, but we do not think it contains the whole 
truth. The event produced in the present instance does not bear out 
the conclusion. The progress of the passion docs not seem to have 
been that of diminishing or removing the terror by coming in contact 
wiiii the object, but of carrying this terror to its height from an 
intense and irresistible impulse, overcoming every other feeling. 

It is a well-known fact that few persons can stand safely on the 
edge of a precipice, or walk along the parapet wall of a house, 
without being in danger of throwing themselves down ; not we 
presume from a principle of self-preservation ; but in consequence of 
a strong idea having taken possession of the mind, from which it 
cannot welt escape, which absorbs every other consideration, and 
confounds and overrules all self-regards. The impulse cannot in this 
case be resolved into a desire to remove the uneasiness oi fear, for 
the only danger arises from the fear. We have been told by a 
person, not at .nil given to exaggeration, that he once felt a strong 
propensity to throw himself into a cauldron of boiling lead, into 
which he was looking. These are what Shakespear calls * the toys 
of desperation/ People sometimes marry, and even fall in love on 
this principle — that is, through mere apprehension, or what is called 
a faulity. In like manner, we fmd instances of persons who are as 
it were naturally deli};hted with whatever is disagreeable, — who 
catch all sorts of unbecoming tones and gestures, — who always say 
what they should not, and what they do not mean to say, — in whom 
intemperance of imagination and incontinence of tongue are a disease, 
and who are governed by an almost infiillible instinct of absurdity. 

The love of imitation has the same general source. We dispute 
for ever about Hogarth, and the question can never be decided 
according to the common ideas on the subject of taste. His pictures 
appeal to the love of uuth, not to the sense of beauty ; but the one is 
as much an essential principle of our nature as the other. They (ill 
up the void of the mind ; they present an everlaitiog succession and 

261 



PREDOMINANT PRINCIPLES IN THE MIND 

rari«ey of ideas. There is a fioe obeemtion somewhere made by 
Ariitoile, chat the muid has a nacural appetite of curiosity or desire 
to koow ; and * most (^ that knowledge which comes in by the eye, 
for thii presents ug with the greatest variety of differences.' Hogarth 
is relished only by persons of a certain strength of mind aod penetra- 
tion into character ; for the subjects in themselves ore not pleasing, 
and this objection is only redeemed by the exercise and activity 
which they give to the understanding. The great difference between 
what is meant by a severe and an effeminate taste or style, depends 
on the distinction here made. 

Oar teasing ourselves to recollect the names of places or persons 
we have forgotten, the love of riddles and of abstruse philosophy, are 
all illnstrationi of the same general principle of curiosity, or the loTe 
of intellectual excitement. Again, our impatience to be delivered of 
a secret that we know ; the necessity which lovers have for confidants, 
auricular confession, and the declarations so commonly made by 
criminals of their guilt, are effects of the involuntary povrer exerted 
by the imagination over the feelings. Nothing can be more untrue, 
than that the whole course of our ideas, passions, and pursuits, is 
regulated by a regard to self-interest. Our atuchment to certain 
objects is much oftener in proportion to the strength of the impression 
they make on us, to their power of rivetting and fixing the attention, 
than to the gratification we derive from them. We arc perhaps more 
apt to dwell upon circumstances that excite disgust and shock our 
feelings, than on those of an agreeable nature. This, at least, is the 
case where this disposition is particularly strong, as in people of 
nervous feelings and morbid habits of thinking. Thus the mind is 
often haunted with painful images and recollections, from the bold 
they have taken of the imagination. We cannot shake them off, 
though we strive to do it: nay, we even court their company; we 
will not part with them out of our presence ; we strain our aching 
sight after them ; wc anxiously recal every feature, aod contemplate 
them in ail their aggravated colours. There are a thousand passions 
and fancies that thwart our purposes and disturb our repose. Grief 
and fear are almost as welcome inmates of the breast as hope or joy, 
and more obstinately cherished. We return to the objects which 
have excited them, we brood over them, they become almost insepar- 
able from the mind, necessary to it ; they assimilate all objects to the 
gloom of our own thoughts, and make the will a party against itaelf. 
This is one chief source of most of the passions that prey like 
vultures on the heart, and embitter human life. We hear moralists 
and divines perpetually exclaiming, with mingled indignation and 
surprise, at the folly of mankind in obstinately persisting in these 

362 



THE LOVE OP POWER OR ACTION 

tormeDting and violent passioni, nich aa envy, revenge, sullennesfl, 
despair, Sec. This is to them a mystery ; and it will always remain 
an inexplicable one, while the love of happiness is considered as the 
only spring of human conduct and desires. 

We shall resume this subject in a future paper.^ 



THE LOVE OF POWER OR ACTION AS MAIN A 
PRINCIPLE IN THE HUMAN MIND AS SENSL 
BILITY TO PLEASURE OR PAIN 

T*e ExawuHfr.] lAprif^f l8l$. 

The love of power or action is another independent principle of the 
human mind, in the different degrees in which it exists, and which 
are not by any means in exact proportion to its physical sensibility. 
It seems evidently absurd to suppose that Bcnsibllity to pleasure or 
pain is the only principle of action. It ts almo5t too obvious to 
remark, that sensibility alone, without an active principle in the mind, 
could never produce action. The soul might lie dissolved in 
pleasure, or be agonised with woe ; but the impulses of feeling, in 
order to excite passion, desire, or wilt, must be first communicated to 
■omc other faculty. There must be a principle, a fund of activity 
somewhere, by and through which our sensibility operates ; and that 
this active principle owes all its force, itfi precise degree and direction, 
to the sensitive raculty, is neither self-evident nor true. Strength of 
will is not always nor generally in proportion to strength of feeling. 
There are different degrees of activity as of sensibility in the mind ; 
and our passions, characters, and pursuits, often depend no less upon 
the one than on the other. We continually make a distinction in 
common discourse between sensibility and irritability, between passion 
and feeling, between the nerves and muscles ; and we find that the 
most voluptuous people are in general the roost indolent. Every one 
who has looked closely into human nature must have observed persona 
who are naturally and habitually restless in the extreme, but without 
any extraordinary susceptibility to pleasure or pain, always making or 
finding excuses to do something, — whose actions constantly outrun 

* Aa a contrut to the itory »t the beginning of thit irtide, it will be not imitt 
to mention that of Sir Imic Newton, on a wmewlut limiUr occaiion. He had 
prepared lome papen for the preii with great care and itadjr, but happening to 
leave a lighted candle on the table with them, hit dog Diamond overturned the 
candle, and the labour of Kvcral ycaia wai dcatrojred, Thii grcst man, on Kciog 
what wai done, only shook hia head, aod aaid with a imilc, * Ah, Diamoad, you 
don't know what mischief you have danf I ' 

363 



THE LOVE OF POWER OR ACTION 



the occaxioD, and who are eager in the puriuit of the greatest triBct, 
— whose impatience of the smallest repose keeps them always 
employed about nothing, — and whose whole lives are a continued 
work of supererogation. There arc others again who seem born to 
act from a spirit of contradiction 0Qly» that ts, who are ready to act 
not only without a reason, but against it, — who are ever at cross- 
purposes with themselves and others, — who are not satisGed unless 
they are doing two opposite things at a time, — who contradict 
what you say, and if you assent to them, contradict what they hare 
•aid, — who regularly leave the pursuit in which they are succcsiful to 
engage in some other in which they have no chance of success, — who 
make a point of encountering difficulties and aiming at impossibilities, 
that there may be no end of their exhaustless task: while there is a 
third class whose 'vit tnertut scarcely any motives can overcome, — 
who are devoured by their feelings, and the slaves of their passions, 
but who can take no pains and use no means to gratify them, — who, 
if roused to action by any unforeseen accident, require a continued 
stimulus to urge them on, — who fluctuate between desire and want of 
resolution,— whose brightest projects biu'st like a bubble as soon as 
formed, — who yield to every obstacle, — who almost sink under the 
weight of the atmosphere, — who cannot brush aside a cobweb in their 
path, and arc stopped by an insect's wing. Indolence is want of will 
— the absence or defect of the active principle — a repugnance to 
motion ; and whoever has been much tormented with this passion, 
must, wc arc sure, have felt that the inclination to indulge it is 
something very distinct from the love of pleasure or actual enjoymem. 
Ambition is the reverse of indolence, and is the love of power or 
action in great things. Avarice, also, as it relates to the acquisition 
of riches, is, in a great measure, an active and enterprising feeling ; 
nor does the hoarding of wealth, after it is acquired, seem to hare 
much connection with the love of pleasure. What is called nig^rd- 
Uness, Tcry often, we are convinced from particular instances that we 
have known, arises less from a sel6sh principle than from a love of 
contrivance, from the study of economy as an art, for want of a 
better, from a pride in making the most of a little, and in not exceed- 
ing a certain expense previously determined upon ; all which is 
wilfulness, and is perfectly consistent, as tt is frequently found united, 
with the most lavish expenditure and the utmost disregard for 
money on other occasions. A miser may in general be looked upon 
as a particular species of vtriuoto. The constant desire in the rich to 
leave wealth in large masses, by aggrandising some branch of their 
families, or sometimes in such a manner as to accumulate for centuries, 
shews that the imagination has a considerable share in this passion. 
264 



THE LOVE OF POWER OB ACTION 



loteniperance, debauchery, gluttony, and other rices of that kind, 
raay be aitributed to an excess of sensuality or gross seDiibility; 
though even here, we think it evident that habits of intoxication are 
produced quite as much by the strength as by the agreeableness of the 
excitement ; and with respect to some other vicious habits, curiosity 
makes many more votaries than inclination. The love of truth, 
when it predominates, produces inquisitive characters, the whole 
tribe of gossips, tale-bearers, harmless busy bodies, your blont 
honest creatures, who never conceal what they think, and who are the 
more rare to tell it you the le&s you want kg hear it^ — and now and 
then a philosopher. 

Our passions in general are to be traced more immediately to the 
active part of our nature, to the love of power, or to strength of will. 
Such are all those which arise out of the difficulty of accomplishment, 
which become more intense from the eB^orts made to attain the 
object, and which derive thetr strength from opposition. Mr. Hobbcs 
says wet] on this subject : 

' But for an utmost end, in which the ancient philosophers placed 
felicity, and disputed much concerning the way thereto, there is no 
such thing in this world nor way to it, than to Utopia ; for while we 
live, we have desires, and desire presujiposcch a further end. Seeing 
all delight is appetite, and desire of something further, there can be 
no contentment but in proceeding, and therefore we are not to marvel, 
when we sec that as men attain to more riches, honour, or other 
power, so their appetite continually groweth more and more ; and 
when they are come to the utmost degree of some kind of power, 
they pursue some other, as long as in any kind they think themselves 
behind any other. Of those therefore that have attained the highest 
degree of honour and riches, some have affected mastery in some art, 
as Nero in music and poetry, Commodus in the art of a gladiator ; 
and such as affect not some such thing, must find diversion and 
recreation of their thoughts in the contention either of play or business, 
and men ju&tly complain as of a great grief that they know not what 
to do. Felicity, therefore, by which we mean continual delight, 
consists not in having prospered, but in prospering.* 

This account of human nature, true as it is, would be a mere 
romance, if physical sensibility were the only faculty essential to man, 
that is, if we were the slaves of voluptuous indolence. But our 
desires are kindled by their own heat, the will is urged on by a 
restless impulse, and, without action, enjoyment becomes insipid. 
The passions of men are not in proportion only to their sensibility, or 
to the desirableness of the object, but to the violence and irritability 
of their tempers, and the obstacles to their success. Thus an 




THE LOVE OF POWER OR ACTION 

object, to which we were almost, iDdifferent while we thought it in onr 
power, ofteo excites the moit ardent pursuit or the most painful 
regret} as soon as it is placed out of our reach. How eloquently is 
the contradiction between our desires and our success described in 
Don Quixote where it is said of the lover, that ' he courted a statue, 
hunted the wind, cried aloud to the desert ! ' 

The necessity of action to the mind, and the keen edge it gires to 
our desires, is shewn in the different value we set on past and future 
objects. It is commonly and we might almost say universally 
supposed, that there is an essential difference in the two cases. In 
this instance, however, the strength of our passions has converted an 
evident absurdity into one of the most inveterate prejudices of the 
human mind. That the future is really or in itself of more con- 
sequence than the past, is what we can neither assent to nor cvea 
conceive. It is true, the past has ceased to be and is no longer any 
thing, exce])t to the mind ; but the future is still to come, and has ao 
existence in the mind only. The one is at an end, the other has not 
even had a beginning ; both are purely ideal : so that this argument 
would prove that the present only is of any real value, and that both 
past and future objects arc equally indifferent, alike nothing. Indeed, 
the fiiture is, if possible, more imagiD^ry than the past ; for the past 
may in some sense be said to exist in its consequences ; it acta still ; 
it is present to us in its effects ; the mouldering ruins and broken 
fragments still remain ; but of the future there is no trace. What 
a blank does the history of the world for the next six thousand years, 
present to the mind, compared with that of the last ! All that 
strikes the imagination, or excites any interest in the mighty scene, is 
what hat been. Neither in reality, then, nor as a subject of general 
contemplation, has the future any advantage over the past; but with 
respect to our own passions and pursuits it has. We regret the 
pleasures we have enjoyed, and eagerly anticipate those which are to 
come ; we dwell with satisfaction on the evils from which we have 
escaped, and dread future parn. The good that is past is like 
money that is spent, which is of no use, and about which we give 
ourselves no farther concern. The good we expect is like a store 
yet untouched, in the enjoyment of which wc promise ourselves 
infinite gratification. What has happened to us we think of no 
consequence, — what is to happen to us, of the greatest. Why so ? 
Because the one is in our power, and the other not ; because 
the efforts of the will to bring an object to pass or to avert it 
strengthen our attjichment to or our aversion from that object ; 
because the habitual pursuit of any purpose redoubles the ardour of 
our pursuit, and converts the speculative and indolent interest we 
266 



OF POWER OR ACTION 



should otherwise take in it ioio real passion. Our regrets, anxiety, 
and wishes, arc thrown away upon Uie past, but we encourage our 
disposition to exaggerate the importance of the future, as of the 
utmost use in aiding our resolutions and stimulating our exertions. 

It in some measure confirms this theory, that men attach more 
or less importance to past and future events, according as ther are 
more or leas engaged in action and the busy scenes of life. Those 
who hare a fortune to make, or are in pursuit of rank and power, are 
regardless of the past, for it does not contribute to their views : those 
who have nothing to do but to think, uke nearly the same interest in 
the past as in the future. The contemplation of the one is as delight- 
ful and real as of the other. The season of hope comes to an end, 
but the remembrance of it la left. The past still lives in the memory 
of those who have leisure to look back upon the way that they have 
trod, and can from it ' catch glimpses that may make them less 
forlorn.' The turbulence of action and uneasiness of desire nuit 
dwell upon the future ; it is only amidst the innocence of shepherds, 
in the simplicity of the pastoral ages, that a tomb was found with this 
inscription — * I also was an Arcadun ! * 

We feel that some apology is necessary for having tlius plunged 
our readers all at once into the middle of metaphysics. If it should 
be asked what use such studies are of, we might answer with Hume, 
p<rhapr of nonct except that there are certain persons whojind more enter- 
tainmenl in them than in any other. An account of this matter, with 
which we were amused ourselves, and which may therefore amuse 
others, we met with some time ago in a metaphysical allegory, which 
begins in this manner : — 

*In the depth of a forest, in the kingdom of Indostao, lived a 
monkey, who, before his last step of transmigration, had occupied 
a human tenement. He had been a Bramin, skilful in theology, and 
in all abstruse learning. He was wont to hold in admiration the 
ways of Nature, and delighted to penetrate the mysteries in which 
she was enrobed ; but in pursuing the footsteps of philosophy, he 
wandered too far from the abode of the social Virtues. In order to 
pursue his studies, he had retired to a cave on the banks of the 
Jumna. There he forgot society, and neglected ablution ; and there- 
fore his soul was degraded to a condition below humanity. So 
inveterate were the habits which he had contracted in bis human 
state, that his spirit was still influenced by his passion for abstruse 
study. He sojourned in this wood from youth to age, regardless of 
everything, save cocoa-nuts and metaphysics? For our own part, we 
should be content to pass our time much in the same way as this 
learned savage, if wre could only find a substitute for bis cocoa-nuts ! 

267 



THE LOVE OF POWER OR ACTION 



Wr do not however wish to rrcommeod the ume pursuit to others, 
nor to diuuadc them from it. It has its pleasures and its puns — tu 
successes and its disappointments. It is neither quite so sublime nor 
()uite so tinintcreftting as it is eomettmes represented. The worst is, 
that much thought on diificult subjects tends, after a ccruin time, to 
destroy the natural gaiety and dancing of the spirits ; it deadens the 
elajttic force of tlie mind, weighs upon the heart, and makes us 
insensible to the common eojoymeota and pursuiu of life. 

* Silhence no fairy tights, no quick'ning ray, 
Nor ftlir of pulse, nor wbjrcts to cntjic 
Abroad the spirits ^ but ihc clo^sttr'd heart 
Sits iquat at nomc, like pagod m a niche 
Obscure,* 

Metaphysical reasoning is also one branch of the tree of the know- 
ledge of good and evil. The study of man, however, docs, perhaps, 
lets harm than a knowledge of the world, though it must be owned 
that the pmctica! knowledge of vice and misery makes a stronger 
inipresdon on the mind, when it has imbibed a habit of abstract 
reasoning. Evil thus becomes embodied in a general principle, and 
shews its harpy form in all things. It is a fatal, inevitable necessity 
hanging over us. It follows us wherever we go : if we fly into the 
uttermost paru of the earth, it is there : whether we turn to the right 
or the left, we cannot escape from it. This, it is true, is the disease 
of philosophy ; but it is one to which it is liable in minds of a certain 
cast, after the first order of expectation has been disabused by 
rxiirrience, and the liner feclines have received an irrecoverable 
shock from the jarring of the world. 

Happy arc they who live in the dream of their own existence, 
and aee all things in the light of their own minds ; who walk by 
faith and hope ; to whom the guiding star of their youth stitl shines 
from afar, and into whom the spirit of the world has not entered ! 
They have not been ' hurt by the archers,* nor has the iron entered 
their souls. They live in the midst of arrows and of death, uncon- 
scious of harm. The evil things come not nigh them. The shafts 
of ridicule naa« unheeded by, and malice loses its sting. The 
example of vice docs not rankle in their breasts, like the poisoned shirt 
of Nesaus, Evil impressions fall off from them like drops of water. 
The yoke of life is to them light and supportable. The world has 
no hold un thrm. They are In it, not of it ; and a dream and a 
glory is ever around them ! 



I 




ESSAY ON MANNERS 



ESSAY ON MANNERS 

Nothing can frequently be more striking than the difference of style 
or manner, where the matter remaioa the same, as in paraphrases and 
translations. The most remarkable example which occurs to us is in 
the beginning of the Flower and Leafhy Chaucer, and in the modern- 
isation of the same passage by Drj^en. We shall give an extract 
from both, that the reader may judge for himself. The original runs 
thus:— 

'And I that all chin pleasaunt tight see. 
Thought soilainly I felte so iweet an aire 
Of the cigcntert, that certaincly 
There ii no hcrtc I dcme, in such dispaire, 
Ne with thoughts froward and contraire 
So overlaid, but it should mmhc hare bote, 
If it had ones felt tlits sarour tote. 

And as I stoocl and cast aside mine cie, 

I was of ware the fairest medler tree, 

That ever yet in all my life I sec. 

As full of blossomes as it might be, 

Therein a goldfinch leaping prctile 

Fro bough to bough, and as nim list he eet. 

Here and there of buds and floures sweet. 

And to the herbcr side was jo)'ning 
This faire tree of which I have you toidj 
And at the last the bird began to sing, 
When he had eaten what he eat wold. 
So pasting sweetly, that by manifold 
It wax more pleasaunt than I could devise j 
And when his long was ended in this wiBe» 

The nightingale with so mcry a note 

Answered him, that all the wood rang 

So Bodainly, that as it were a Aote, 

I stood astonied, 10 was I with the sang 

Thorow ravished, that till late and lang, 

I ne wist in what piace I was, ne where, 

And aye mc thought she sang even by mine ear. 



Wherefore I waited about busily 
On every side, tf I her might nee. 
And at the last I gan full well espie 



«69 



ESSAY ON MANNERS 

Where she ut in a fresh green laurer tree, 
On the further side even ri^ht by me. 
That gave so passing a delicious imell^ 
According to the eglentere full well. 

Whereof I had lo inly great pleasure; 
That as me thought I surely ravished was 
Into Paradise, where my desire 
Was for to be and no further to passe. 
As for that day, and on the sote grassc 
I sat me dovvne, for as for mine intent, 
The birdcs song was more convenient. 

And more pleasaunt to me by manifold, 
Than meat or drinJcc, or any other thing. 
Thereto the herber was so fresh and cow, 
The wholesome savours eke so comforting, 
That as I deemed, sith the beginning 
Of the world was never seene or then 
So pleasaunt a gFoxmd of none earthly man. 

And ai I sat, the birdes harkening thus, 
Me thought that I heard voices sodainly, 
The most sweetest and most deUcimis 
That ever any wight I trow truly 
Heard in their life ; for the harmony 
And sweet accord was in so good mu«ke. 
That the voices to angels most was Uke.^ 

In this passage the poet has let loose the rery soul of pleasure. 
There is a spirit of enjoyment in it, of which there seems no end. It 
is the intense delight which accompanies the description of every 
object, the fund of natural sensibility it displayst which constitutes its 
whole essence and beauty. Now this is shewn chiefly in the manner 
in which the different objects are anticipated, and the eager welcome 
which is given to them ; in his repeating and varying the circum- 
stances with a restless delight ; in his quitting the subject for a raoroent, 
and then returning to it agaiD> as if he could never have his (ill of 
enjoyment. There is little of this in Drydcn's paraphrase. The 
same ideas are introduced, but not in the same manner, nor with the 
same spirit. The imagination of the poet is not borne along with the 
tide of pleasure — the verse is not poured out, like the natural strains 
it describes, from pure delight, but according to rule and measure. 
Instead of being absorbed in his subject, he is dissatisfied with it, uies 
to give an air of dignity to it by factitious ornaments, to amuse the 
reader by ingeniou« allusions, and divert his attention from the progress 
of the story by the artifices of the style. 

170 



ESSAY ON MANNERS 



•The painted birds, compintons of the spriDg, 
Hopping from spray to spray, were heard to sing; 
Both eyes and ears received a like delighr^ 
Enchanting music, and a charming tight: 
On Philomel I fixed my whole dehire. 
And linen d for the queen of all the quire : 
Fain would I hear her heavenly voice to sing. 
And wanted yet an omen to the spring. 
Thus as I mufc'd, I cait aside my eve 
And saw a medlar tree was planted nigh : 
The spreading branches maae a goodly show, 
And lull of opening blooms was every bough -. 
A goldfinch tnere I saw with gaudy pride 
Of painted plumes, that hopp'd from side to side. 
Still pecking as she pass'd ; and still she drew 
The sweets from every flow>, and suck'd the dew j 
Suffic'd at length, she warbled in htr throat. 
And tun'd her voice to many a merry note. 
But indiBtinct, and neither sweet nor clear, 
Yet such as sooth'd my soul, and plca^'d my ear. 

Her short performance was no sooner tried, 
When she I sought, the nightingale, replied : 
So sweet, so shrill, so variously she sung, 
That the grove echo'd, and the vallies rung: 
And I so ravish'd with her heavenly note, 
I stood entranc'd, and had no room tor thought ^ 
But all o'erpower'd with ectasy of bliss, 
Wai in a pleasing dream of paradise: 
At length I wak'd } and looking round the bower, 
Search'd every tree, and pry'd on every flower, 
If any where by chance I might eapy 
The ruraJ poet of the melody : 
For still mcthoueht she sung not far away; 
At last I found Tier on a laurel spray. 
Close by my side she sat, and fair in sight, 
Full in a line, against her opposite ; 
Where stood with eglantine the laurel twin'd ; 
And both their native sweets were well conjoin'd. 

On the green bank I sat, and listen'd long j 
(Sitting was more convenient for the song) 
Nor tin her lay was ended could I move, 
But wifhM to dwell for ever in the grave. 
Only mcthought the time too swiftly paas'd. 
And every note I fcar'd would be the last. 
My sight, and uncll, and hearing were employed, 
And all three senses in full gust enjoy 'd. 
And what atone did all the rest surpass 
The sweet posteuioo of the fairy place ; 



»7t 



KEAN*S BAJAZET 

objected to us to shew the friTolity of exteroal accomplishment ^ 
the ficility with which they are acquired. As to the Ian point, we 
demur. There are no class of people who lead so laborious a life, or 
who uke more pains to cultivate their minds as well as persons, than 
people of fashion. A young lady of quality who has to devote so 
many hours a day to music, so many to dancing, so many to drawingi 
to many to French, Italian, Sec, certainly does not pau her time in 
idleness ; and these accomplishments arc afterwards called into action 
by every kind of external or mental stimulus, by the cxcitcmenu of 
pteasuret vanity and interest. A Ministerial or Opposition Lord goes 
through more drudgery than half a dozen literary hacks; nor does a 
reviewer by profession read half the same number of publications as a 
modern 6ne lady is obliged to labour through. We confess, however, 
we are not competent judges of the degree of elegance or refinement 
implied in tbe general tone of fashionable maimers. The successful 
experiment made by Peregrine PieiU, in introducing his strolling 
mistress into genteel company, does not redound greatly to their credit. 
In point of elegance of external appearance, we see no difference 
between women of fashion and women of a different character, who 
dress in the same style. 



KEAN'S BA.TAZET AND *THE COUNTRY GIRL' 

Tit EMMmimtr.} [l^ovemhtr iz, i8i{. 

The lovers of the drama hare had a very rich theatrical treat this 
week, Mr, Kean*s first appearance in Bajazet^ two new Misj Peggyt 
in the Country Girl^ and last, though not least. Miss Stephens's 
re-appearance in Po//y. Of Mr. Kean's Baja%et we have not much 
to say, without repeating what we have said before. The character 
itself is merely calculated for the display of physical passion and 
external energy. It is violent, fierce, turbulent, noisy, and blas- 

(hst in thote pobti which I sdmire, Brothrr ChryKMiom it si great s philosopher, 
nty grcsttr thso Ariitotlc himicU I' So the H^ifr tf Bar* : 

* To church n-fti mine hoibkBd borne on the morrow 
With Dcighlraun that for him miden ioitow. 
And Jcnkin our clerk WH one of thoi 
Ai help me God, when thtt I taw him go 
After the bier, melbought he had a pair 
Of 1^1 and feet, lo cteao and fair, 
That all my heart I gave unto hia bold.' 

'All which, though we mott potently believe, yet wc hold it not honeaty to 
have it thus ict tlowo.' 
274 



KEAN'S BAJAZET 



phemous, 'full of aouDd and furyi signifying nothing.' Mr. Keao 
did justice to his author, or went the whole length of the text, A 
viper does not dart with more fierccoess and rapidity on the person 
who has just trod upon it than he turns upon Tamerlane in the height 
of his fury. An unslaked thirst of vengeance iind blood has taken 
possession of every faculty, like the savage rage of a hyaena, assailed 
by the hunters. His eyeballs glare, his teeth gnash together, his 
hands are clenched. In describing his defeat, his voice is choked 
with passion ; he curses, and the blood curdles in his veins. Never 
was the fiery soul of barbarous revenge, stung to madness by repeated 
shame and disappointment, %o completely displayed. This truth of 
nature and passion in Mr. Kean's acting carries every thing before it. 
He was the only person on the stage who seemed alive. The mighty 
Tameriane appeared no better than a stuffed figure dressed in ermine, 
Arfasia moaned in vain, and Monese-i roared out his wrongs unre- 
garded, like the hoarse sounds of distant thunder. Nothing can 
withstand the real tide of passion once let loose ; and yet it is pre- 
tended, that the great art of the tragic actor is in damming it up, or 
cutting out smooth canals and circular basons for it to flow into, so 
that it may do no harm in its course. It is the giving way to natural ' 
and strong impulses of the imagination that floats Mr. Kean down the 
stream of public favour with all hts faults — ' a load to sink a navy.' 
The only wonder was to see this furiouR character suffered to go 
about and take the whole range of the paJnce of Tamerlane, without 
the least let or impediment. It shewed a degree of magnanimity io 
Mr. Pope, which is without any parallel, even in modem times. It 
is understood that the play was originally written by the whig poet 
Rowe, and regularly acted on the anniversary of our whig revolution, 
as a compliment to King William, sod a satire on Louis xiv. For 
any thing we know, the resemblance of Tamerlane to King William 
may be sufficiently strong, there the historian and the poet may agree 
tolerably well; but what traits the Tartar Chieftain and the French 
Monarch had in common, it would be difficult to 6nd out. If any 
more recent allusion was intended in its revival, it fell still wider of 
the mark. The play of Tamerlane may be divided into two heads — 
cant and rant. Tamerlane takes the first part, and Bajaxei tlie second. 
This last hurls defiance at both gods and men. He is utterly regard- 
less of consequences, and rushes upon his destruction like a wild beast 
into the toils. He utters but one striking sentiment, when he defends 
ambition as the hunger of noble minds. Bajaz.et*i character is energy 
without greatness. He is blind to every thing but the present 
momeot, and insensible to every thing but the present impulse. True 
gfcataen is the reverse of this. It shews all the energy of courage, 

*7S 



V 



KEAN'S BAJAZET 



Tr."^! 



but none of the impatience of despair. It trtrugglei with difTicultT, 
but yicldi to necessity. It does every thing, and sufferi nothing. It 
sees events with the eye of history, and makes Time the Judge of 
Fortune. Courage with calmness constitutes the perfection of the 
heroic character, as the effeminate and sentimental unite the extremes 
of activity and irritability. We never saw Mr. Kean look, better. 
•^ His costume and his colour had a very picturesque effect. The- 



iSL ^^■'^^^'H^ yellow brown tinge of the Tartar becomes him much better than the 



yC;; 'i* 



v^T^ tawny brick-dust complexion of the Moor in 
■* W Now for our two Country Girls. We ha« 



Otbem. 
have seen both without any 
great effort of our patience : to confess a truth, we had rather sec the 
Country Girl two nights running than Tameriarte ; as we would ratlier 
have been Wycherley than Rowe. The comedy of the Country Girt 
is taken from Moliere's Scfjooi for IVivet. It is however a perfectly 
free imitation, or rather an original work, founded on the same general 
pIot« with addiiiooal characters, and in a style wholly different, 
Scarcely a line is the same. The long, speechifying dialogues in 
the French comedy arc cut down into a succession of smart conversa- 
tions and lively scenes : there is indeed a certain pastoral sweetoess 
or sentimental naivete in the character of ./fgnej^ which is lost in 
Mill Peggy, who is however the more niitural and mtschievouB little 
rustic of the two. The incident of her running up against her 
guardian as she is running off* with her gallant in the park, and the 
contrivance of the second letter which she imposes on her jealous fool 
as jilithea^jy are Wycher!ey*8. The characters of Muhca, Harcotiri^ 
and of the fop Sparilsh^ who appears to us so exquisite, and to others 
so insipid, are additional portraits from the reign and court of Charles ii. 
Those who object to tlie scenes between this gentleman and his mistress 
as unnatural, can never have read the Memo'trt of the Count de Gram- 
mont, — an authentic piece of Knglish history, in which we trace the 
origin of so many noble families. What an age of wit and folly, of 
coxcombs and coquets, when the world of fashion led purely orna- 
mental lives, and their only object was to make themselves or others 
ridiculous. Happy age, when the utmost stretch of a morning's study 
went no further than the choice of a sword knot, or the adjustment 
of a side curl ; when the soul spoke out in all the persuasive eloquence 
of dress; when beaux and belles, enamoured of themselves in one 
another's follies, fluttered like gilded butterflies in giddy mazes 
through the walks of St. James's Park ! The perfection of this gala 
out-of-door comedy is in litherege, the gay Sir George ! Then 
comes Wycherley, and then Congreve, who hands them into the 
drawing-room. Congreve is supposed to have been the inventor of 
the epigrammatic, clenched style of comic dialogue ; but there is a 
276 



>CTRTNE OF PHILOSOPHICAL KECESSITY 



great deal of this both in Wycherlcy and Ethercgc, with more of 
a jttnty tone of flippant gaiety in the latter, and more incident, char- 
acter, and situation in the former. The Country Giri holds unim- 
paired posseftsion of the stage to this day, by its wit, vivacity, nature, 
and ingenuity. Nothing can be worse acted, and yet it goes down, 
for it supplies the imagination with all that the actors want. Mr. 
Bartley had some merit as MooJjf Mr. Fawcct none. Barrymore, 
at Covcnt Garden played Harcourt well. We hare seen him in 
better company, and he reminded us of it. He was much of the 
gentleman, and as much at home on the stage (from long practice) as 
it he had been in his own apartments. As to the two Miu Peggy't 
we hardly know how to settle their pretensions. If Mrs. Mardyn 
overacts her part to that degree that she seems only to want a 
Bkipping-ro[)e to make it complete, Mrs. Alsop is so stifT and queer 
that she seems to have only jufit escaped from a back-board and steel 
monitor. If Mrs, Alsop has the clearest voice, Mrs. Mardyn has 
the brightest eyes. Mrs. Alsop has most art, Mrs. Mardyn has 
most nature. If Mrs. Mardyn is too profuse of natural graces, too 
young and buoyant and exuberant in all her movements, the same 
fault cannot be found with Mrs. Alsop, whose smiles give no pleasure, 
and whose frowns give unmingted pain. Mrs. Alsop's Pf^gy i" & 
clever recitation of the character, without being the thing ; and 
Mrs. Mardyn's is a very full development of her own person, which 
is the thing itself. Mrs. Alsop is the best actress, though not worths-' *^ 
a pin, and Mrs. Mardyn is the most desirable woman, which is ^'.^"i 
always worth something. We may apply to these two ladies what 
Suckling said of one of his mistresses — 

* I take her body, you her ntind,— 
Which has the better bargain.* 



'■^< 



-"^^J ^ 



DOCTRINE OF PHILOSOPHICAL NECESSITY 

Tir Examiner.} [Dtttmhtr lo, 1815 

* For I had leamt a sense sublime 

Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whcwe tlweuing is the light of setting suns, 
And the roimd ocean and the living air 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man, 
A motion and a spirit that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things.* 

IPS, the doctrine of what has been called philosophical necessity 
was never more finely expressed than in these lines of a poet, who, lif 

*77 



DOCTRINE OF PHILOSOPHICAL NECESSITY 

he had written only halF of what he hu done, would have deferred 
to be immorul. There can be no doubt that all that exists, exists 
by necessity ; chat the vast fabric of tlie universe is held together in 
one mighty chain, reaching to the 'threshold of Jove's throne* ; that 
whatever has a beginning, roust have a cause ; that there is no object^ 
no feeling, no action, which, other things being the same, could have^ 
been otherwise; that thought follows thought, like wave following' 
wave ; that chance or accident has no share in any thing that conies 
to pass in the moral or the physical world; that whatever is, must 
be ; that whatever has been, must have been ; that whatever is to be 
will be necessarily. 

I never could doubt for a moment of the Irvth of this general 
principle, and I never could comprehend the inferences which have 
commonly been drawn from it, both by friends and foes. All the 
moral consequences which have been attributed to it appear to mel 
mere idle prejudices against it on one side, and equally gratuitous con- I 
cessions on the other. The doctrine of necessity leaves morality just I 
where it found it. It does not destroy goodness of disposicioo or 
energy of character, any more than it destroys beauty or strength of 
person. It does not take away the powers of the mind any more 
than the use of the limbs. That every thing is by necessity, no more 
proves that there is no such thing as good and evd, virtue and vice, 
right and wrong, in the moral world, tJian it proves that there is no 
such thing as day or night, heat or cold, sweet or sour, food or poisoDs i 
in the physical. Merit and demerit, that is to say, praise and blamet 
reward and punishment, have no place in the physical world, but that 
is because they have no effect there ; and for the same reason they 
have a place in the moral, because they have an effect there. All the | 
practical conclusions which have been ascribed to the difference 
between liberty and necessity, may be equally accounted for (as they 
really had their rise) from the dinerence between moral and physical 
necesMty. 

Man acts from a cause ; and so far he resembles a stone ; but be j 
does not act from the same cause, and herein he difTers from it*^ 
There is a print which I have seen from a picture by Lodovico 
Caracci, in which a female figure, with a lion by her side, is repre- 
sented striking a flame of £re at her feet with a drawn sword. I do 
not very well understand the allegory, but it appears to me to furnish 
a very tolerable illustration of the difference between moral aix) 
physical necessity : for whether this figure strikes the flame with the 
flat or the sharp side of the sword, it divides and rises again equally ; 
it is incapable of punishment for it has no sense of pain, nor does it 
apprehend a repetition of the blow. Is it the same with the human 

?7S 



^ 
^ 



DOCTRINE OF PHILOSOPHICAL NECESSITY 

miod ? No ; for it has both the sense of pain and the aeoee of coo- 
sequencea, which render it liable to punishment^ by making that 
puniihment one effectual and necessary meani of influencing its 
conduct. A man differs from a stone in that he has fcetlog and 
asderstaoding ; and it is this difference that makes him a moral and 
responsible agent io the true meaning of the terms, by cooaecting his 
present impulses with their future consequences. It may be said that 
animals have feeling, and a certain degree of understanding ; and so 
far they arc liable to correction and punishment. A dog or a horse 
is terrilied at the whip or the spur as well as encouraged by kindness. 
We very properly, therefore, threaten them with the one and allure 
them with the other, though we neither preach to them of heaven nor 
hell, because they hare no notion about either. As far as they have 
understanding, they have free-will, for these two words mean one and 
the same thing. Man it the only religious animal, because he atone 
(from a greater power of imagination) extends his views of conse- 
qoenccB into another state of being. — The application of praise or 
blame, as well as of reward and punishment, is proper, wherever it is 
likely to have an effect. We do not talk to the deaf : we do not 
shew pictures to the blind ; we do not reason with a wild beast ; we 
do not quarrel with a stone. Because it would be useless. But we 
do talk to those who can hear ; we shew pictures to those who can 
sec ; we reason with prejudice ; we quarrel with ill-nature. The 
human mind differs from an ioaaimatc substance or an automaton, 
inasmuch as it is actuated by sympathy as well as by necessity. We 
indeed praise a flower, a statue, or a beautiful face, because they give 
us pleasure: we praise a virtuous action, as an additional incentive to 
virtue. * Praise and blame, reward and punishment ' (says Mr. 
Hobbes) *are just and proper, because they fashion the will to 
justice.* 

Merit, in the scholastic sense, means something self-caused, and 
independent of motives. This sense of the term is flat nonsense, for 
there is nothing without a cause — nothing which is not owing to some 
other thing. The whole theory of merit may be said lo turn upon 
the capacity of any person or thing to mould itself according to the 
opinion entertained of it. A stone has not this capacity ; and there- 
fore there is no merit in a stone. If you tell a country-girl that she 
is handsome or well made, her answer generally will be, that * She is 
as God made her.* This however does not prove that she is not 
well made. It is only meant to shew, that as she has had do hand 
in her own shape, and can do nothing to mend it, the merit is so tar 
none of hers. But if you praise the neatness of her dress, she has 
not the same evasion left, but thinks the flattery well bestowed, for she 

279 



DOCTRINE OF PHILOSOPHICAL NECESSITY 



U conscious that this depends upon herself; that she can stay a 
longer or a shorter time at her glass as she pleases ; and that the pains 
she has taken have been with a view to the good opinion you expren 
of her. The difference between natural and acquired graces is aa 
obvious dictate of common sense ; unless we adopt the opinion of the 
Clown, that ' a good favour is the effect of study, but reading and 
writing come by nature.' It is a piece of brutality and ill-nature to 
point at a hump-backed man, and call hira My Lord : but there is no 
great harm in laughing at a person with an aukward slovenly gait, for 
the ridicule may remedy the defect. A person has it in his power to 
turn his toes out instead of in, whenever he chusesi : he cannot get rid 
of a natural deformity by any effort of will. Beauty and power of 
erery kind excite our love and admiration, whether in nature, in 
morals, or in an ; but still with a difference. St. Paurs is a much 
nobler as well as larger building than St. Duosun's. We accordingly 
admire the one much more than the other ; but we allow no more 
merit to the one than the other. All the difference of merit we 
ascribe to the architect, and not to the building. Why so ^ Because 
all the vanity belongs to the architect, and not to the building, — St. 
Paul's stands where it does; it lifts its majestic dome to the skies, 
whether it is seen or not, whether it is admired or not. It has 
(familiarly speaking) done nothing to deserre our good opinion, for 
it has done nothing with a view to it. Now for the same reason that 
the building has not, the builder /taj merited our good opinion, for he 
did what he has done with that very view ; was sensible to that good 
opinion, and stimulated to exertion by it. It is evident that the 
admiration we bestow on any work of art, as an actual object, is 
involuntary ; it makes no difference in the object whether we bestow 
it or not; we therefore do not make a point of bestowing it: the 
praise we give to the artist is voluntary, and merited in this farther 
sense, that we are bound to bestow it as a means to an end : we 
indulge it not merely as a sentiment naturally excited by the contem- 
plation of excellence, but the expression of which is a reward due to 
the pains taken by the artist, and to the encouragement of genius. 
Disapprobation and punishment on the other hand necessarily give 
pain to the person who is the object of them, but it is to produce a 
remote good. However, it equally follows in either case, that our 
Jove and hatred of what is amiable or odious in conscioui agents must 
be different from our feeling towards unconsciuus ones, from the sense 
of the difference of the consequences. The lever, the screw, and 
tlie wedge, are the great instruments of the mechanical world: 
opinion, sympathy, praise and blame, reward and punishment, are the 
lever, the screw, and the wedge, of the moral world. A house is 
180 



DOCTRINE OF PHILOSOPHICAL NECESSITY 



N 



9 



built of fltooes ; human character depeods on motiTes. Is there 
therefore no diffcrcocc between one character and another? Ai well 
might it be said that there is no difference between one building and 
another. If merit means something in character, indc|iendcDt of 
motives and of all other things, then there can be no such thing as 
merit: but if by merit we mean something which excites our appro- 
bation of one character more than another, and which something is 
still farther entitled to our approbation, because it depends upon it for 
it< motive and encouragement, then undoubtedly this word has a 
rational meaning in it. To deny praise or blame, reward or punish- 
ment, to actions, because they are produced by motives, is to take 
away the prop from a bouse, because it supports it. — Necessity only 
supersedes merit by superseding the operation of motives. It is pre- 
tended, that if any action is not perfectly gratuitous, if it can be traced 
to any other cause, the merit must be transferred to that other cause, 
and so on without end. This infinite series may be cut short by 
observing, that any action is entitled to our good opinion which is 
alTected by it. If our opinion had no influence on the actions of 
others, there would so far be no merit. If any one going up Holborn- 
bill is pushed by a stronger man against a window and breaks it, who 
k the responsible person ? The one who pushed the other, and not 
the one who broke the glass. Because punishment or correcting the 
moral sense will not prevent a weak man from being pushed against 
a window by a strong one, but it will prevent the strong man from 
pushing him against it. It makes no difference that this person did 
not act at first without a motive ; the point is, that here is another 
motive which will counteract the former one. The true cause of any 
thing in the practical and moral sense, is that, by removing which the 
effect ceases. A man is a moral agent only in so far as he can do 
what he will : for motiveii c-in only operate on the will. A man in 
chains or held by force is not accounuble for what he does, for blame 
or praise him ever so much, and he will do, not what you wish him, 
but what others force htm to do. You may reasonably exhort a man 
not to throw himself over Westminster Bridge, but it is in vain, after 
he has thrown himself over, to call out to him to stop. Morality 
means that we have the power to do certain things, iftve 'ojU/, or 
help them, ij wffi/eaje. 

Merit is moral energy. It is the sense of merit which is the great 
stimulus of exertion. One thing is more difficult, requires a greater 
effort than another. The sense of merit is in proportion to the sense 
of difficulty. The highest praise is given to the highest exertions, 
the greatest rewards are due where the greatest sacrifices have been 
made. The degree of merit depends then on the degree of voluntary 

281 



PARALLEL PASSAGES IN VARIOUS POETS 

power exerted : for exertion deserves every kind of encouragemett 
aod assisUDce as it becomes ditHcuh. We give a boy sixpence for 
going a mile ; a shilling for going two. We need not offer rewards 
and largesses to vice and indolence ; for ail the sanctions of religioo 
and morality are not sufiicient to correct them. The admiration with 
which the story of Marrell and his leg of mutton is read baa not 
prevented the facility of some modern patriots in commencxng 
courtiers ; but if it should only save us from a single birthday ode» it 
will be something. The phlegmatic Dutchman, in playing at skittles, 
fbUowB his bowl with hit eye, writhes his body to make it turn right, 
and cheers it with his voice. If the bowl had sympathy so as to bend 
with his body, and to be encouraged to go a little farther by hia 
praising it, there would be some sense in his doing so. iVmphioo ia 
said to hare raised the walli of Thebes with the sound of his lyre; 
in one sense the fable might be true, for he might have drawn together 
and civilized his followers by the power of song. The words which 
Madame de Stael some time ago addressed to the Germans. Ailt- 
magne^ tu ei une nation^ rt lu pleurt^ were not without their effect- 
Neither perhaps would the same words be so now, addressed to ber 
own country — France^ tu es une nation^ rt tu pUurs ! 

We have been led to these remarks by receiving an epistle from an 
elderly maiden lady, who complains that she has spent her whole life 
in censuring and back-biting her neighbours, and that by what we let 
fall some time ago, about there being no such thing as merit and 
demerit, we had debarred her of the only use of her tongue and 
pleasure of her life. We are sorry to have interrupted her, and 
hope she will now proceed. We have a good deal left to say on the 
subject: — 

* But there is matter for a second rhyme. 
And wc to thi> must add another tale.' 



PARALLEL PASSAGES IN VARIOUS POETS 

Tht Exsmmcr.l [Deeemier 24, i8l$. 

B£iNG very busy or very indolent this week (it is no matter which), 
we have had recourse to our common-place book (the £rst or last 
resource of authors), and there find the following instances of parallel 
passages, which are at the service of the critics. The conclusion of 
Voltaire's tragedy of Zaire is the speech of Oro/iibia, who has killed 
hti mistress, to her brother, Nemtan : — 



283 



[• Et toi, gutrricr inforrune,' &c to 

' Dis que je radonus, rt que Tai vengc.*] 



PARALLEL PASSAGES IN VARIOUS POETS 

This will probably remind our readers, as it did us, of OthtU(^i 
farewell speech :— 

[•Soft you \ a word or two before you go*' &c.] 

After transcribing the above passage, we were looking about for 
the traces of the former one, which had * vanished into thin air,' and 
were beginning to suspect that our parallel had totally failed, till in 
looking into the lucubrations of Mr. William Wade, who has tried 
to pick a hole in Shakespear, we learnt that the French translator of 
our poet had ^ra ^cV^ translated the passage into legitimate French 
verse, and that Voltaire had in consequence, with singular modesty, 
complained that Ducis had improved upon the original and stolen 
the whole turn of the passage from him. To be sure, there is a wide 
diflference in the two passages. There ts nothing in the French poet 
of the * No more of that,' that fine natural interruption to the 
gasconade which his distress had just extorted from him ; there 
is nothing of *One that loved not wisely, but too well,' there is 
nothing of Indian pearls or Arabian gums, nor is there any allusion 
to Aleppo, nor description of * a malignant and a turbaned Turk ' ; 
nor any thing like that fme return upon himself, and transition from 
the depth of a dejected spirit to the recollection of former acts of 
daring dellancc, while in his despair he inflicts on himself the blow 
with which he formerly chastised an insolent foe. These circura- 
itances are given * as over-measure ' in Shakespear, and would be 
considered as superfluous and extravagant by the French cridcs ; 
yet they are exactly the circumstances which the Moor Othello must 
hare been best acquainted with, and which, as some of the most 
uriking circumstances of his past life, would be forcibly recalled to 
his memory in parting with it. Voltaire has not invented any thing 
of the same sort for his dying hero j his speech (though a very good 
one of its kind) is, as Susannah says to Trim, 'as flat as the palm 
of one's hand ; ' it has nothing objectionable in it ; it is just such 
a speech at any crowned head might make in any of the four 
quarters of the globe. — May we be allowed to add (in passing), 
that Mr. Kcan does not act this scene well ? He gnashes his teetn, 
and strikes the dagger into his bosom, as if he had uken some 
particular enmity against his own flesh. But this is not eo in 
Shakespear. The feeling of OtheHo is a lofty absence of mind, in 
which he throws himself back from the present into the past ; the 
image he recalls furnishes not only the precedent but the consolation 
of his present act ; and the pang which he inflicts on himself is 
relieved, and unconsciously confounded with the recollection of 
former acts of grandeur, and elevation of soul. But to proceed. — 

283 



MR. LOCKE A GREAT PLAGIARIST 



tion, bat he completed the building. Every one of the principleB of 
the modern^ material philosophy of the mind, is to be found in hii 
works, perfect and entire, as it is in the latest commentators of 
the French school. He not only took for his basis the principle 
that there is no other original faculty in the mind but sensation : 
he also poahed this principle into all its consequences^ with a severe, 
masterly, and honest logic, of which there is scarcely any other 
example. By thus shewing the full extent of his system, 'die very 
head and 5'ont of his offending,' without any di&guisc, he only got 
himself an ill name, and his system was consigned to infamy or 
oblivion. Mr. Locke adopted the tirst principle, with a clumsy 
addition to it, but ao as to secure himself the reputation of an 
original thinker ; and at the same time, by not following it in a 
bold and decided manner into any one of its necessary consequences, 
he avoided giving the alarm to popular apprehension, and made a 
temporary compromise with the common sense and prejudices of his 
rcMera. The door being however opened to the introduction of 
this philosophy, by the admi»Bion of the general principle, all the 
rest by degrees followed as a matter of course ; and it has been 
the business of the ablest meuphysicians ever since to clear what has 
been considered as the philosophy of Locke, from the inconsistences 
and imperfections which he had suffered to creep into it : all which 
improvements on Locke's Essay are only a recurrence to the prin- 
ciples laid down by Hobbcs, in the moat explicit and unequivocal 
manner. To shew how little this last writer has been read, even by 
professed metaphysicians, Hume attributes the doctrine, that there 
are no abstract ideas, to Berkeley as an original discovery, though 
the arguments used by Berkeley are almost word for word taken 
from those used by Hobbcs on the same subject. Yet Locke, to 
order we suppose to prevent inquiry into the originality of his own 
claims, calls Hobbcs *a justly exploded author.* This question is 
curious (philosophy apart) as a branch of literary history. It is, 
we know, dangerous to tamper with established repuution; nor should 
we perliape have ventured to hazard the accusation we have here 
made, if we had not been supported by the authority of so well 
informed, candid, and respectable a writer as Dugald Stewart, whose 
testimony is of the more value, as he does not seem to be aware of 
the general propensity of Mr. Locke to appropriate the ideas of 
others to his own use, without disguise or acknowledgement. To 
any one who takes the trouble to peruse Professor Stewart's very 
elegant Dissertation just published, on the rise and progress of 
modern Metaphysics, it will be evident that every one of those 
original discoveries, to which the author of the Essay on Human 

28s 



MR. LOCKE A GREAT PLAGIARIST 

UoderttaDdtng owes hia celebrity, and on which be particnlariy 
phimed himself, u taken id vubitaiice and almoft io words frora 
writers of whom he does not oDce make mention ; for example, faii 
propoaed division of the sciencct, brought forward with great parade 
aod formality, into Physic*, iiihict, and Logic, which is the dd 
division of the Greek philoiophy ; hii definition of words whidi 
are definable or not definable, which is taken expressly from Descartes ; 
his account of the origin of our ideas, that of aaaoctatioti, of the 
social compact, etc. which are borrowed from Hobbes ; his distinc- 
tion of the properties of matter into primary aod secondary, and hia 
theory of coDKioosncts or reflection as a distinct source of ideaig 
which belong to Descartes ; his h]rpothe«is about animal spirits, •■ 
the medium of association of ideas, adopted from Malhranche ; hii 
account of jodgmeot and wit, which is to be found in Hobbes, &c 5cc. 
If it be asked, whether Mr. Locke has not had the merit of 
combining the materials thus derived from other sources into i 
complete and masterly system, the answer would be, that his work 
is one of the most confused, undigested, aod contradictory, that bai 
been published on the subject. There is oo one to whom those Unci 
of the poet were ever more applicable. 

* Fame i» no plant that grows on mortal mmI, 
Nor in the glistering foil 
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies, 
But live* and spreads aloft b)* tliose pure eyes. 
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove.* 

We should hope that Mr. Stewart will examine into and state 
his conriction on this question fidly and clearly in the account of 
Mr. Locke's Essay, which he has promised in the continuation 
of his work. If he would lend the sanction of his name to shew the 
real foundation on which Mr. Locke's reputation rests, it would not 
be the least service he has retuJered to philosophy. * To trace an 
error to its source is often the only way to refute it. The task is no 
doubt an invidious, but it is a iKcessary one. The name of Locke 
is in a manner dear to every lover of truth ; but truth itself should be 
stilt dearer. 

It will perhaps be amusing to the reader (though not initiated in 
such studies) to see the manner in which an idea is bandied about, in 
these speculations, from author to author, to no sort of purpose. 
•In one of Mr. Locke's mo«t noted remarks,* (says the learned 
Professor) * he has been anticipated by Matbranche, on whose clear 
vet concise statement he does not seem to have thrown ranch new 
light by his very diffuse and wordv commentary.' — * If in having our 

186 



MH. LOCKE A GREAT PLAGIARIST 



* 



ideas in the memory ready ac hand, consists quickness of pares ; in 
this of having them unconfused, and being able nicely to distinguish 
one thing from another, where there is but the least difference, 
conaists, in a great measure, the exactness of judgment and cleanuiss 
of reason ; which is to be observed in one man above another. And 
hence perhaps may be given some reason of that common observation, 
that men who have a great deal of wit and prompt memories, have 
not always the clearest judgment or deepest reason. For Wit, lying 
rooit in the assemblage of ideas, and putting those together with 
quickness and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance or 
coDgruity, thereby to make up pleasant pictures and agreeable vinons 
in the fancy : Judgment on the contrary, lies quite on the other 
side, in separating carefully one from another, ideas wherein can 
be found the least difference, thereby to avoid being misled by 
similitude and by affinity to take one thing for another.' — Etsay^ etc. 
B. ii. c. xi. § 2. 

'II y a done des csprita dc deux sortes. Lei uns rernarqucnt 
ais^ment les differences des choses, et ce sont les bons esprtts. Les 
autre« imaginent ct nupposcnt de la ressemblance enir'elles, et ce sont 
les esprits euperiiciellea.' — Recherche de la Ver'tte. 

*■ At an earlier period. Bacon had pointed out the same cardinal 
distinction in the intellectual characters of individuals. 

** The greatest and as it were radical distinction of geniuses, in 
respect of philosophy and science, is this ; that some are more able 
and apt at noting the differences of things ; others at noting their 
similitudes. For steady and acute minds can iix their contemplations, 
and remain and dwell on every subtlety of distinction ; whereas more 
lofty and discursive imaginations recognize and compound even the 
slightest and commonest resemblances of things." 

*That xtrain I heard 'tuas of a higher mood! — It is evident that 
Bacon has here seized, in its most general form, the very important 
truth perceived by his two ingenious successors in particular cases. 
fVitf which Locke contrasts with Judgment, is only one of the various 
talents connected with what Bacon calls the diseurtive genius ; and 
indeed a talent very subordinate in dignity to most of the others.' — 
Note to the Di/jcrtathny p. 1 16. 

Mr. Locke, by Wit, in the passage here referred to, evidently 
means ingenuity or fancy generally speaking; for in the last hundred 
years, the use of this term has undergone a great alteration. He 
howercr borrowed his definition immediately from * that exploded 
author,' Hobbes, who says in the Leviathan^ p. 32, — 'Whereas, in 
the succession of thoughts, there is nothing to ol»erve in the things 
we think on, but either in what they be tike one another, or in what 

187 



MR. LOCKE A GREAT PLAGIARIST 



tbey be unlilcc} — those that obterre their similttudet, in cate they be 
such aa are but rarely observed by others, are laid to have a good 
wit, by which ia meant oq this occasion a good fancy. But they that 
observe their differences and dissimilitudes, which is called dis- 
tinguishing and discerning and judging between thing and things in 
case such discerning be not easy, arc said to have a good judgment; 
and particularly in matters of conversation and business, wherein 
times, places, and persons, are to be discerned, this virtue is called 
Discretion.' 

What is most remarkable in this traditional definition of wit and 
judgment, is, that it is altogether unfounded; for as Harris, the 
author of Ifermes, has very well obser^'ed, the finding out the 
equality of the three angles of a triangle to two right ones, would, 
upon the principles here stated, be a sally of wit, instead of an act of 
the understanding, and Euclid's Elements a collection of hon motj. 

It may be said in explanation, that wit discovers false resemblances 
only. Bat neither is tjiis true. Wit consists in an illustration of an 
idea by some lucky coincidence or contrast, which idea may be either 
false or true, as it happens. But the best wit is always the truest. 
When the French punsters the other day changed the title of some 
loyal order from Comf^igrums du Lji into Compagnom tVUlysic^ the 
wit lost none of iu enicacy, because there was a lurking suspicion in 
the mind that the insinuation was true. When Mr. Grattao, some 
years ago, said, that the only resources of Ministers were ' the guinea 
or the gallows,' the alliteration proved nothing, but neither did h 
disprove any thing. When the late ingenious Professor Porson, in 
reply to some entliusiast of the modern school of poetry, who was 
exclaiming * that some contemporary bards would be admired when 
Homer and Virgil were forgotten,' made answer, — *And not till 
then,* — he shewed more wit, and perhaps not less judgment, than his 
antagonist. Besides, the wit here consisted in tlie distinction. 

We shall shortly go more into this subject in three pafiers, which 
we propose to write, on Imagination, Wit, and Judgmeot, when we 
shall endeavour to shew that these faculties, though not the same, nor 
always found together, are not so incompatible as dullness on the one 
hand> and folly on the other, would lead the world to suppose. The 
most sensible man of our acquaintance is also the wittiest ; and the 
most extravagant blockhead the dullest matter-of-fact man. The 
greatest poet tliat ever lived, had the most understanding of human 
nature and affairs. Martinus Scriblerus contains the best commentary 
on the Categories ; and we shrewdly suspect that Voltaire and Moliere 
were two as wise men, that is, knew as many things that were true 
and useful, as Malbranche and Descartes, It would have been hard 

288 



MR. LOCKE A GREAT PLAGIARIST 



I 



to persuade either of thoK laughing philoflophen that they nw all 
things in God^ or thai animals were machines. These are * the 
laborious fooleries ' of the understanding. 

Mr. Stewart has ioteripcrsed his history of the progress of opinions 
with some interesting biographical sketches. Of Anthony Araaud, 
the author of the Port Royal Logic, we learn, that • he lived to the 
age of eighty-three* continuing to write against Malbranche's opinions 
concerning Nature ami Grace^ to bis last hour.' He died* says his 
biographer, in an obscure retreat at Brussels, in 1692, without 
fortune, and even without the comfort of a servant ; he, whose 
nephew had been a minister of state, and who might himself have 
been a cardinal. The pleasure of being able to publish his sentimeota 
was to him a sufficient recompense. Nicole, his friend and companion 
in arms, worn out atleogtli with these incessant disputes, expressed a 
wish to retire from the field, and to enjoy repoee. ' Repose ! * 
replied Arnaud ; * won't you have the whole of eternity to repotc in ? ' 
—An anecdote which is told of his infancy, when considered in 
connection with his subsequent life, afl'ords a good illustration of the 
force of impressions received in the first dawn of reason. He was 
amusing himself one day with some childish sport, in the library of 
the Cardinal du Perron, when be requested of the Cardinal to give 
him a pen : — And for what purpose i said the Cardinal. — To write 
boolcs, like you, against the Huguenots. The Cardinal, it is added, 
who was old and infirm, could not conceal his joy at the prospect of 
so hopeful a successor : and, as he was putting the pen into his hand, 
said, ■ I give it to you as the dying shepherd Damaetas bequeathed 
his pipe to the little Corydon.' Of the celebrated metaphysician 
De«cartc6, it apiiears that he was * a bold campaigner ' in his youth ; 
that he oerved in Holland under Prince Maurice of Nassau ; in 
Germany, under Maximilian of Bavaria, in the thirty years* warj in 
Hungary, and at the siege of Rocbelle, as a volunteer against the 
English. He pASsed his life in camps till the age of five -and twenty, 
when he retired to spend the remainder of it — in proving his own 
existence ! What then, it may be asked after all, is the use of such 
studies and pursuits ? Of the same use as pursuing gilded butterflies, 
or any other toy that amuses the mind. Mr. Hume fixed his 
residence, while componog his Treatise of Human Nature, at the 
village of La Fl^che, where Descartes was brought up. This is an 
interesting trait in the life of a philosopher, who was by no means of 
the romantic casL We do not very well understand the lenity or 
rather the respect with which the memory of Mr. Hume ii always 
treated by our author, who is so hard upon Hobbes and others. 
There is also too much notice taken of Adam Smith, who, whatever 
VOL. XI. : T 289 



^ 




SHAKESPEAB'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 

might be his mertts as a political economiEt, wai of a. very subordioate 
class as a philosopher — 

* The tenth truismittcr of a fooiikh creed/ 

May wc add, that the distiDctlons of Metaphysics and Geography 
have nothing in common^ nor i» truth of any particular country. 

The learned Professor makes lOo httle account of the German 
philoaophcr Kant, whose maxim that *thc mind alone is foronative,' 
is the only lever by which the modern pbilowphy can be overturned. 
He has indeed overlaid this simple principle by his logical techni- 
calities, his categories and stuff, as Loclce has coiifounded all common 
sense with his ideas of sensation and ideas of reflection. Nothing can 
be done towards a true theory of the mind, till piiilosophers are con- 
vinced that all ideas are ideas of the understanding; and that it re<]aireB 
all the same faculties to have the iiUa of the stud of a brass nail in an 
old arm-chair, that is, the perception of connection, Umits, form, 
difference, aye, and of abstraction, in this simple object, as in the 
highest speculations of theological or metaphysical science. The 
modem philosophers contend that the mind has no idea of any thing 
but sensible images : the way to turn the ublcs upon them is then to 
prove, that in the idea of every one of these sensible objects, there is 
necessarily involved the exercise of all those faculties, of which they 
deny the existence, and which are exerted, only in a different degree, 
in the most simple or the most refined operations of the understanding. 



SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 

TJt* Bxtmimtr.] [JiJy 2S, 1816. 

Shak£5?ear's women (wc mean those who were his favourites^ and 
whom he intended to be the favourites of the reader) exist almost 
entirely in the relations and charities of domestic lire. They arc 
nothing in themselves, but every thing in their attachment to others. 
We think, as little of their persons as they do themselves, because wc 
are let into the secrets of their hearts, which are more important. 
We arc too much interested in their affairs to stop to look at their 
faces, except by stealth and at intervals. We catch their beauties 
only sideways as in a glass, but we everywhere meet their hearts 
coming at yity—Jull hutt^ as M'us P'ggy meets her husband in the 
Park. No one ever hit the true perfection of the female character, 
the sense of weakness leaning on the strength of its affections for 
290 



SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 



P 



N 



support, 80 well as Shaketpear — no one cTcr to well painted natural 
tcoderocM free from all affectation and disgaisei that 

*CallftCnie love acted simple modeity' — 

no ooe cite erer bo well shewed how delicacy and timidity, urged to 
an extremity, grow romantic and extravagant, for the romance of his 
heroines (in which they abound) is only an excess of the common 
prejudices of their sex, scrupulous of being false to their vows, truant 
to their affections, and uught by the force of their feelings when to 
forego the forms of propriety for the essence of it. His women are 
in this respect exquisite logicians, for they argue from what they feci, 
and that is a sure game, when the suite is deep. They know their 
own minds exactly. High imagination springs from deep habit ; and 
Shakespcar's women only followed up the idea of what they liked, 
of what they had sworn to with their tongues, and what was engraven 
on their hearts, into its untoward consequences. They were the 
prettiest little set of martyrs and confessors on record. 

Wc have aJmost as great an affection for Imogen as she had for 
Pouhumui ; and she deserves it rather better. Of all Shakespcar's 
women she is perhaps the most touching, the most tender, and the 
most true. As to Desdemona^ who was alone a match for her in good 
faith and heroic scif-devotion, she had her faults, and she suffered for 
them. imogetCs incredulity as to her husband's infidelity is much 
the same as Dademona'i backwardness to believe Othello's jealousy. 
Her answer to the most distressing part of the picture is only, * my 
Lord, I fear, has forgot Britain.' Her readiness to pardon lachimo^t 
falsehoods, and his designs upon her virtue, ii a good lesson to prudes ; 
and shews (as perhaps Shakespcar intended it, or nature for him) 
that where there is a strong attachment to virtue, it has no need to 
bolster itself up with an outrageous or affected antipathy to vice. 
The morality of Shakespear in this way is great i but it is not to be 
found in the four last lines of his plays, in the form of extreme 
unction. The scene in which Puanio gives Imcgen her husband's 
letter accusing her of incontinency, is as fine as anything could be :— 

' Puanio. What cheer, Madam ? 

Imogen. False to his be<l ! What i& it to be false ? 
To tic in watch there, and to think on him ? 
To weep 'twixt clock aiul clock I If nieep charge nature, 
To break it with a fearful dream of htm. 
And cry myself awake t That 's false to '» bed, is it ? 

Puanio. Alas, good lady ! 

Imogen. I false } thy conscience witness, tachimo, 
Thou didst accuse him of incontinency, 

*9« 




SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 

Tbou then look'du like z VUlain : Mow irftiifiH, 

Thjr favour 't good enough. Sook Jay of bah, 

^Vqok ibocbct' wi> bcr praitiB^ rach bccnQTW hm • 

Poor I am uakj a gamw ai eat of &AiaB» 

And for I am richer tlian to hang by ch' waOi, 

I must be ript ; to piccci with lac Oh, 

Men'* Towt are women's traiton. All good Wftnipg 

By thy revolt, oh Huifaaod, ihall be tiUNigfat 

Put on for villainy : not bom where *t grows^ 

But worn a bait for Ladie*. 

Puanio. Good Vfadam^ hear roe — 

Imogen. Talk thy tongue weary, speak : 
I have heard I am a strumpet, and mine ear, 
Therein false struck, can cake no greater wound. 
Nor tent to bottom that.' — 

Wheo P'uaniof who had bcco charged to lull his nustrcM, puts her 
io a way to live, she says — 

• Whv, good fellow. 
What BhalT I do the while > Where bide ? How live } 
Or in my life what comfort, when I am 
Dead to my Husband i " 

Yet when he advises her to disguise herself in boy's clothes, and 
suggests * a course pretty and full in view,* by which she may * happily 
be near the residence of Potthumuiy she exclaims — 

• Oh, for such means, 
Though peril to my modesty, not death on 't, 
I would adventure. 

And when Puanto, enlarging on the consequences, tells her 
must change — 

* Fear and nicencss, 

The handmaids o( all women, or more tnily. 
Woman its pretty self, into a waggish courage. 
Ready in gibes, quick answer'd, saucy, and 
As quarellous as the weazcJ * — 

She ioiemipts him hastily : — 

'Nay, be brief: 
I see unto thy cod, and am almost 
A man already, ' 

Id bcr journey thus disguised to Mitford-Havcn, she loses her 
guide and hct way ; and unbasomiug her complaints, says faeaanfidly, — 

19Z 



SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 



* My dear Lord, 
Thou art one of the faUe oncii: now I think oa thcc. 
My hunger's gone ; but even befurr, I wait 
At point to sink, (or food.* 

She afterwardi finds, as she thinks, the dead body of Posifjumuj, 
and engages herself m a foot-boy to sene a Roman Officer, when 
she has done all due obsequies to him whom she calls her former 

^m master : 

^B * And when 

^^L With wild vi-ood-Icarett and weedii I ha* strewctl his grave, 

^^1 And on it said a century- of pray'rs, 

^^^^^_ Such as I can, twice o'er, I il weep and sigh, 

^^^^^fc And leaving so Ins service, follow you, 

^^^^^^ So please you entertain me.' 

P N 

■ . .1, 



^ 



Now this is the very religion of love. Is it not ? All this, which 
is the essence of the character, is liree from every thing like personal 
flattery or laboured description. She relies little on her personal 
charms, which she fears may have been ecUpsed by some painted jay 
of Italy; she relies only on her merit, and hcf merit is in the depth 
of her love, her truth and constancy. Our admiration of her beauty 
is excited as it were with as little consciousness as possible on her 
part. There are two delicious descriptions given of her, one when 
she is asleep, and ooe when she is supposed dead, ^rviragut thuB 
addresses her : 

*Wlih fairest flowers, 

While summer lasts, and I live here, Fidcle, 
I'll sweeten thy sad grave ; thou shalt not lack 
The flow'r that's like thy face, pale primrose, nor 
The aiurc'd harr-bell, like thy veins, no, nor 
The leaf of eelantine, which not to slander, 
Out-sweeten'd not thy breath.' 

The yellow laclmno gives another that, when he steals into her 
bed-chamber : 

'Cytherea, 

How bravely thou becom'st thy bed ! Fresh Illy, 
And whiter than the sheets T That I might touch — 
But kiss, one kiss — *Tis her breathing that 
Perfumes the chamber thus : the flame o' th' taper 
Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids 
To see th' enclosed lights now canoplea 
Cnder the windows, white and azure, laced 
With blue of Heav'n's own tinct— on her left breast 
A mole cinque-spotted, like the criraun drops 
r th' bottom of a cowslip.' 

293 



SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 

Th«re is a moral sease in the proud beauty oF this Ian image* a 
rich surfeit of the fancy, — aa that well-kDown pat»age beginning, * Me 
of my lawful pleasure she restrained, and prayed me oft forbearance,' 
»eu a keener edge upon it by the inimitable picture of modesty aod 
self-denial. Desdemona is another instance (almost to a proverb) of 
the devotedness of the sex to a favourite object. She is ' subdued 
even to the very quality of her lord,* and to OtheUo'i * honours and 
his valiant parta her soul and fortunes consecrates.* The lady 
protests as much herself, and she is as good ai her word. There 
IS not a set description of her in any part of the play ; and the only 
thing that tends that way is the equivocal and somewhat luscious 
dialogue that takes place between /ago and Cassk as an accompani- 
ment to the ceremonies of the wedding-night. We see her visage in 
her mind : her character every where predominates over her person ; 

•A maiden, never bold; 
Of spirit so still and quiet, that her motion 
Blush'd at itself.' 

She LB not a painted idol, carved out of the poet's brain, but is her- 
self a worshipper at the shrine of duty. As Milcoa dashes the 
luxurious effect of his descriptions by a moral, Shakespear qualilies 
it by the interest of the story, as in the scene where OthtiL takes 
Dudemona by the hand. The truth of conception, with which 
timidity aod boldness are united in the same character, is marvellous. 
The extrav.igance of her actions, the pertinacity of her affections, in 
a manner arises out of the gentleness of her nature. It is an im- 
reservcd reliance on the purity of her intentions, a surreoder of her 
fears to her love, a knitting of herself (heart and soul) to the fate of 
another. Bating the comroencemem of her passion, which is a little 
fentastical and self-willed (though that may be accounted for in the 
same way from an inability to resist a rising inclination) her whole 
character consists in having no will of her own, no prompter but her 
obedience. Her romantic turn is only a consequence of the domestic 
and practical part of her disposition ; and instead of following 
Othelh to Cyprus, she would rather have remained at home, *a moth 
of peace,' if her husband could have staid with her. Her resignation 
and angelic sweetness of nature do not desert her at the last. The 
scenes in which she laments and tries to account for Othfilo^s harsh 
usage of her are exquisitely managed. After he has struck her and 
called her names, she says : 

' Alas, lago. 

What shall 1 do lo win my lord again } 
Good friend, go to lilm^ tor by this light of Heaven, 
29* 



SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 



I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel : 



If 



'ill did trespasft 'gainut his la 



ove, 
Either in discourse, or thought, or actual detd^ 
Or that mine eyes, mine eare, or any senee 
Delighted them on any other form \ 
Or that I do not, and ever did. 
And ever will, though he do iihake me ofF 
To beggarly divorcement, love him dearly. 
Comfort fonwear me. Unkindnesc may do much. 
And his unkindneis may defeat my life» 
But never uint my love. . . . 

logo. I pray you be content : *tis but his humour. 
The business of the state does him offi;nce. 

Dademona. If 'twere no other." 



ft 



The scene which follows with her maid and the song of the 
Willow are equally beautiful, and shew Shakcspear's extreme power 
of varying the expresBioa of passion, in all its moods aad in all 
circumstances. 

One of the finest passages Id Mr. Wordsworth's poems is that 
where be has given us his opinion of DesJemona : 

'Books, dreams, are each a world j and books, we know. 
Arc a substantial world, buth pure and good, 
Round which, with trnJriU btrong as Hesh and blood. 
Our pastime and our happiness may grow ; 

Matter wherein right voluble I am. 
Two let mc mention dearer than the rest. 
The gentle lady wedded to the Moor, 
And heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb.' 

We have said enough to explain oar idea of the general turn of 
Shakespear's female characters. We need not mention Ophelia or 
CortUlia., both of which admit of little external decoration, and which 
it would seem impossible to treat in any other way than as Shake- 
spear has represented them, abstracted from every thing but their 
heart-breaking ties to others, if Tate bad not adorned the person of 
Cordelia with a number of beauties, and Bnishcd her story with a 
lover. Cleopairay who has certainly a personal identity of her own, 
and who is described in all the glowing pomp of eastern luxury, is 
not an exception to what we have said, for she is not intended as a 
model of her sex. What we best recollect of CrejitJa, is Pandarut*s 
description of her after bringing her to the tent, where he says, — 
•AikI her heart beats like a ncw-ta'en sparrow' — which must be 

^95 




SHAKESPEAR'S FEMALE CHARACTERS 

allowed to be quite Shake&penin. Miranda appears to be the moR 
conscious of ber charms of any of his favourites (perhaps from the 
very solitude in which she had lived), a sort of miracle of her 
father's islaod, and the goddess of her new-found lover's idolatry. 
Pert&ia is a rery pretty low-born lass, the Queen of curds and cream 
— but she makes us think of other things more than of her face. 
There ii one passage in which the poet has, wc suspect, very artfully 
rallied the indifFercncc of the sex to abttract rcasomng : 

' Perdita. Sir, the fairest flowers o' th' season 
Are our camatians, and streak'd gilly-flowen, 
Which some call Nature *s bastards: of that lund 
Our rustic garden 's barren, and I care not 
To get slips of them. 

PoSxfnei. Wherefore, gentle maiden, 
Do you neglect them ? 

Perdita. For I have heard it said. 
There '\% an art which, in their picdness shares 
With great creatine nature. 

Polixrnes, Say, there be, 
Yet nature is made better by no mean, 
But nature makes that mean j so o'er that art 
Which you say adds to nature, is an art 
That nature makes : you sec, sweet maid, we nnarry 
A gentler scyon to the wildest stock, 
And make conceive a bark of baser kind 
By bud of nobler race. This is an art 
Which docs mend nature, change it rather j but 
The an itself is nature. 

Ptrdita. So it is. 

PoBxetut. Then make your garden rich in gilly-flowen^ 
And do not call them bastards. 

PerMta. FU itot put 
The Sbblt in terth^ to ttt one sSfi ^ them^ etc* 

Here the lady gives up the argument, but keeps her opinion. We 
had forgot one charming instance to our purpose, which ii the 
character of Helm in AU^s WtU that Ends Well; and tliis also puts 
ufi in mind that Shakespcar probably borrowed his female characters 
from the Italian novelists, and not from English women. 



296 



MISS O'NEILL'S WIDOW CHEERLY 



MISS O'NEILL'S WIDOW CHEERLY 



7<tr Examiiur.] 



[Jgmary 12, 1817, 



Ws have few idols, and those few we do not like to lose. But the 
vannth of our idolatry of Miss O'Neill will be brought to a much 
lower temperature if she goes on playing comedy ai this rate. We 
cannot form any compromiae in our imagination between Behidera 
and the IVuIow Chterly, To apeak our minds plainly, Miss O'Neill is 
by far the best tragic actress wc ever saw, with one great exception, 
and she is the worst comic actress we remember, without any 
exception at all. Her comedy is cast io lead, and sad dnltful dumpi 
ihe makes of it. It is tragedy in low-heeled shoes. Her spirit ii 
boisterousness ; her playfulness languid affectation ; her familiarity 
oppressiTe ; her gaiety lamenuble. There never was such labour in 
vain. A smile trickles down her cheek like a tear, and her voice 
whines through a repartee in as many winding boots of mawkish 
insinuation as through the most pathetic address. We cannot bear 
all this evident condescension ; it overpowers us. In one scene she 
was very much applauded : it is that in which the W'tdo'w Chnrly 
gives a characteristic description of her former husband's introduction 
of her to his bottle-companions : * This is my wife,' etc. Now it 
cannot be denied that she mimicked the airs and manner of the fox- 
hunting squire very well, and her voice Fairly gave the house a box 
CD the ear. But we do not wish to see Miss O'Neill in the part of 
Squire fVatern. We conceive that this delightful actress cannot 
descend lower than the soldier's daughter, except by playing the 
sailor's daughter, and giving the word of command in a striped blue 
jacket and trowsers instead of a striped green gown. In these 
tom-boy hectoring heroines Mrs. Charles Kemblc, whom, to the best 
of our belief, she imitates, beats her out and out ; and Mrs, Mardyn, 
besides being taller and handsomer, has really more of the vis comica. 
But we will have done with this ungrateful subject. The comedy 
itself, of The Sofdin'*j Daughter, is the heau ideal of modern comedy. 
It contains the whole theory and practice of sentimentality, of which 
a bank-note offered and declined is the circulating medium, and a 
white cambric pocket-handkerchief, that catches the crystal tear io 
the eye of sensibility ere it falls, the visible emblem. Mr, and Mrt, 
Melford are an amiable young couple in lodgings and in great distress, 
but you do not learn how they got into one any more than the other. 
They otter their complaints, but are too delicate to touch opon the 
cause, and yoo sympathise with their sorrows, not with their mis- 

* 297 



MISS O'NEILL'S WIDOW CHEERLY 

fortUDCi. They have a little girl, who has a little dolt, which she 
christens * Miu Good Gentleman/ after a person whose name she 
does not know. This is a very palpable hit, and tells amazingly. 
The unknown benefactor of these unfortuDates inri^ito ts a young 
Mr, HeartaUt a wild, giddy character, that is, in the modero sense, 
a person who never stands still on the stage — who is always running 
into scrapes, which he walks out of without leaving any apology or 
account behind him. Then there is the fVtdo^ Cheerly, in the same 
house with the Melfordtt whose heart and whose ridicuie arc ever 
open to the distressed, and who makes a match with Temng Heartallt 
because he makes her an offer, it not being consistent with the 
gallantry of a soldier's daughter to decline a challenge of that sort. 
Then there is Old Heartali^ uncle to Toung Heartily and an East 
Indian Governor, who says one thing and docs another ; calls his 
nephew a scoundrel, and throws his arms round his neck. He is rtot 
a character, but a contradiction. Then there is a Mr. Ferret, who 
commits all sorts of unaccountable villainies through the piece, with- 
out any ostensible motives, and at the end of it you fiod that he has 
acted upon an abstract principle of avarice. 

<If,* he says, 'there had been no such thing as avarice, I had not 
been a villain.' This is a very edifying confession of faith ; and so 
not finding this principle answer, he repents upon an abstract principle 
of repentance, and also at the instigation of his old benefactor, (just 
arrived from the East and accordingly a great moralist), who reads 
him a great moral lecture, and advises him to give up his ill-gotten 
gains. As Mr, Ferrtt submits to his advice backed by the law, 
OiJ HeartaU is prevailed on to forgive his designs upon the lives, 
characters, and fortunes of his acquaintance, from an amiable weakness 
of heart, and because the W'tdonu Cbferly, who intercedes for him, 
'has roguish eyes.' Mr. Liston plays a foolish ncrvant in the 
Heartcdl family, whose name is Timothy, The name of Timothy is 
one of the jokes of this part: Mr. Listoo's face is the other, and the 
best of the two. 

The whole tone of this play reminded ub strongly of a very 
excellent criticism which we had read a short time before on the cant 
of Modem Comedy, in one of the notes to Mr. Lamb's Specimens of 
Early Dramatic Poetry:— 

* The insipid levelling morality to which the modern stage is tied 
down would not admit of such admirable passions as these scenes are 
filled with. A puritanical obtuseness of sentiment, a stupid infantile 
goodness, is creeping among us, instead of the vigorous passions, and 
virtues clad in flesh and blood, with which the old dramatists present 
us. Those noble and liberal casuista could discern in the differences, 

198 




*PENELOPE^ AND 'THE DANSOMANIE' 

the quarrels, the animosities of men, a beauty and truth of moral 
feeling, oo less than in the itcrately ioculcated duties of forgiveoess 
and atonement. With ua, all is hypocritical meekness, A recon- 
ciliatioo scene (let the occasion be never so absurd and unnatural) is 
always sure of applause. Our audiences come to the theatre to be 
complimented on their goodness. They compare notes wiih the 
amiable characters in the play, and find a wonderful similarity of 
disposition between them. We have a common stock of dramatic 
morality, out of which a writer may be supplied, without the trouble 
of copying it from originals within his own breast. To know the 
boundaries of honour — -to be judiciously valiant~to have a temperance 
which shall beget a smoothness in the angry swellings of youth — to 
esteem life as nothing when the sacred reputation of a parent is to be 
defended, yet co shake and tremble under a pious cowardice when 
that ark of an honest confidence is found to be frail and tottering— to 
feel the true blows of a real disgrace bJunting that sword which the 
imaginary strokes of a supposed false imputation had put uo keen an 
edge upon but lately — to do, or to imagine this done in a feigned 
story, asks something more of a moral sense, somewhat a greater 
delicacy of perception in questions of right and wrong, than goes to 
the writing of two or three hackneyed sentences about tlie laws of 
honour as opposed to the laws of the land or a common-place against 
duelling. Yet such things would stand a writer now a days in far 
better stead than Captain Ager and his conscientious honour ; and he 
would be considered as a far better teacher of morality than old 
Rowley or Middleton, if they were living.' 



PENELOPE AND THE DANSOMANIE. 

Tif Sxamintri] [January 19, i%\y, 

KtNc*> Tkkatm. 

This theatre was opened for the present season under very favour- 
able auspices; and we congratulate the public on the prospect of the 
continuance of this addition to the stock of elegant amusement. 
Though the opera is not among the ordinary resources of the lovers 
of the drama, it is a splendid object in the vijta of a winter's 
evening, and we should be sorry to see it mouldering into decay, its 
graceful columns and Connthian capitals] fallen, and its glory buried 
in Chancery. We rejoice when the Muses escape out of the 
fangs of the law, nor do we like to see the Graces arrested — in 
a pas de tro'u. Wc do not * like to sec the unmerited fall of 
rhat has long flourished in splendour ; any void produced in 

299 



•PENELOPE* AND *THE DANSOMANIE' 

the imaginatioD ; any ruin on the face of Art.' At present we hope 
better things from the known tastes and talent$ of the gentlemaa 
who is understood to hare undertaken the management of the 
principal department, and from what we hare seen of the perform- 
ances with which the company have commenced their career. The 
pieces on Saturday and Tuesday were the Opera of Peneiope by 
Cimarosa, and the inimitable comic Ballet, The DanromanU. The 
Orst iS( what it professes to be* a Grand Serious Opera : but it is 
somewhat heavy and monotonous. It introduced to the English 
Stage H-'veral actors of considerable eminence abroad. The principal 
were Mad. Camporese a« Penelope, Madame Pasta as Teitmaeotu, 
and Signor Crivelli as Wytseu The last of these appears to be as 
good an actor as a singer. His gestures have considerable appro 
priftteness and expression, besides having that sustained dignity and 
studied grace, which are essential to the harmony of the Opera; 
and his tones in singing are full, clear, and so articulate, that any 
one at all imbued with the Italian language can follow the words 
with case. Madame Camporese performed Pmelope^ and drew down 
the frequent plaudits of the house by the sweetness of her voice, and 
the flexibility of execution which she manifested in some of the most 
difficult and impassioned passages. If we were to express our 
opinion honestly, we should say that we received most pleanire from 
Madame Pacta's Tf/ema.'huj. There is a natural eloquence about her 
tinging which we feel, and therefore uodersund. Her dress and 
fbure aJso answered to the classical idea we have of the youthful 
T^tmacbut, Her vmce is good, her action is good : she has a 
handsome face, and tvrf handsome legs. The ladies, we know, 
think otherwise : this is the only subject on which we think our- 
•eUti better judges than they.— Of the Dannmanie we will say 
nothing, lest we should be supposed to have caught the madneaa 
which it ridicules so sportively and gracefiilly. The whole ii 
excellent, but the Minuet de la Cour is sublime : and the Gavot 
which oucceev^K it, is as good. Madame Leon was exquisite, and 
she had a partner worthy of her. 

* Such were the jvvyt of our dancing days.* 

Really when we )v« these dance*, and bear the music, which our old 
fimtasUcal dancing muter used to acrape upon his kit, played in full 
orcbMUi, v» do not know what to nuke of it ; «c wiah we were 
old dM>ci M Wim w , or Ictreiag to da&cet or that we had lived in 
th« limt M Hflurj it. Tlie tmn do loc cone ao out cyea ; tiuK 
•Mif«» ti dry a Nt wc exckin with tlie Soa of Fkigal« 
* Roll Ml y* dark'brown year* 1 ye hriag no joy oo yaar win^ to Ouian.* 




OROONOKO' 



OROONOKO. 

Dxuav-I.ANc 

Southern's tragedy of Orvemoio, which has not been acted, we 
believe, tor some years, has been brought forward here to inlroducc 
Mr. Kean as the Royal Slave. It was well thought of. We con- 
sider it as one of hia best parts. It is also a proof to us of what 
we have always been disposed to think, that Mr. Kean, when 
be fully gives up his mind to it, is as great in pure pathos as in 
energy of action or discrimination of character. In general, he 
inclines to the violent and muscular expreBsion of passion, rather than 
to that of its deep, involuntary, heart-fcJt workings. If he does this 
upon any theory of the former style of expression being more striking 
and calculated to prtxiucc an immediate effect, we think the success 
of his Richard II. and of this play alone (not to mention innumerable 
fine passages in his other performances), might convince him of the 
perfect safety with which he may trust himself in the hands of the 
audience, whenever he chuscs to indulge in * the melting mood.' 
We conceive that the range of his powers is greater in this respect 
than he has yet ventured to display, and that if the taste of the town 
Is not yet ripe for the change, he has genius enough to lead it, 
wherever truth and nature point the way. His performance of 
Oroonoko was for the most part decidedly of a mild and sustained 
character ; yet it was highly impressive throughout, and most so, 
where it partook least of violence or effort. The strokes of passion 
which came unlookcd for and seemed to take the actor by surprise, 
were those that took the audience by surprise, and only found relief 
in tears. Of this kind was the passage in which, after having been 
harrowed up to the last degree of agony and apprehension at the 
supposed dishonourable treatment of his wife, and being re-assured 
on that point, he falls upon her neck with sobs of joy and broken 
laughter, saying, ' I knew they cou!d not,' or words to that elfect. 
The first meeting between him and Imomda was also very affecting ; 
and the transition to tenderness and love in it was even finer than 
the expression of breathless eagerness and surprise. There were 
many other |>a8ftages in which the feelings, conveyed by the actor, 
seemed to gush from his heart, as if its inmost veins had been laid 
open. In a word, Mr. Kcao gave to the part that glowing and 
impetuous, and at the same time deep and full expression, which 
belongs to x^ character of that burning zone, which ripens the souls 
of men, as well as the fruits of the earth ! The most striking part 

301 



'OROONOKO' 



in the whole performance was in the uttering of a single word. 
Oroottoloy in conficquence of his gentle treatment, and the flattering 
promises that arc held out to him of safe conduct to his own country, 
of the restoration of his liberty and his beloved fmoinda^ thinks well 
of the persons into whose hands he has fallen ; and it is in vain 
that Aboam (Mr. Rae) tries to work him up to suspicion and 
rcTcngc by general descriptions of the sufferings of his countrymen, 
or of the cruelty and treachery of their white masters : but at the 
suggestion of the thought, that if they remain where they are, Imoinda 
will become the mother, and himself, a prince and a hero, the father 
of a race of slaves, he starts and the manner in which he utters 
the ejaculation * Hah ! * at ihc world of thought which is thus shcwa 
to him, like a precipice at his feet, resembles the first sound that 
breaks from a thunder-cloud, or the hollow roar of a wild beast, 
roused from its lair by hunger and the scent of blood. It is a pity 
that the catastrophe does not answer to the grandeur of the menace ; 
and that this gallant vindicator of himself and his countrymen 
fails in his enterprise, through the treachery and cowardice of 
those whom he attempts to set free, but * who were by nature slaves ! ' 
The story of this tervile 'war is not without a parallel elsewhere : 
it reads * a great moral lesson * to Europe, only changing hituk 
into white ; and the manner in which Oroonoko is prevailed on 
to give up his sword, and his treatment afterwards, by a man 
in British uniform, seems to have been the model of the Convention 
of Paris. It only required one thing to have made it complete, that 
the Governor, who is expected in the island, should have arrived 
in time to break the agreement, and save the credit of his subaltern. 
The political allusions throughout, that is, the appeals to common 
justice and humanity, against the most intolerable cruelty and 
wrong, .irc so strong and palpable, that we wonder the piece is not 
prohibited. There is that black renegade 0/hman, who betrays his 
country in the hopes of promotion, and the favour of his betters : how 
like he is to many a whttc-faced loon, but that ' the devil has not 
damned them black ! ' Politics apart — Oroonoko is a very interesting 
moral play. It is a little tedious sometimes, and a little common- 
place at all times, but it has feeling and nature to supply what 
it wants in other respects. The negroes in it (we could wish thera 
out of it, but then there would be no play) are very vgiy ctutomert 
upon the stage. One blackamoor in a picture is an ornament, but a 
whole cargo of them is more than enough. This play puts us out of 
conceit with both colours, theirs and our own ; the sooty slave's, 
and his cold, sleek, smooth-faced master's. — Miss Somerville was a< 
great relief to the natural and moral deformity of the scene. SheJ 



*THE PANNEL' AND *THE RAVENS' 

looked like the idea of the poet's mind. Her resigned, pcneire, 
UDCODBcious look and uttitudc, at the moment she is about to be 
restored to the rajiturous embrace of her lover, wa< a beautifiil 
dramatic picture. She is an acquisition to the milder parts of 
tragedy. She interests on ihe stage, for she is interesting in herself. 
She cannot help being a heroine, if she but shews herself. She was as 
elegantly dressed in /moinJa, for an Indian maid, in light, flowered 
drapery, as she was in Imagine, for a lady of old romance, in 
trains of lead-coloured satin. Her voice is sweet, but lost in 
it! own sweetness ; and we who hear her at some distance, can 
only catch 'the music of her honey-vows,* like the indistinct 
murmur of a hiTc of bccs- Mr. Bcngough does not Improve upon 
us by acquaintance. All that we have of late discovered in 
him is thai he has grey eyes. Little Smitli made an excellent 
representative of the coasting Guinea captain. John Bull could not 
desire to have better justice done to his mind or his body. — 
Southern, the author of Oroonoko^ was also the author of haheila, 
or the Fatal Marriage, in both of which ' he often has beguiled us 
of our tears.* He died at the age of eighty-six, in 1746. Gray, 
the poet, speaks thus of hira in a letter, dated from fiumhara, in 
Buckinghamshire, 1737. *Wc hare here old Mr. Southern, at 
a gentleman's bouse a little way off: he is now seventy-seven 
years old, and has almost wholly lost his memory : but is as agree- 
able as an old man can be : at least I persuade myself so, when I 
look at him, and think of Isabella and Oroonoio, 



'THE PANNEL' AND 'THE RAVENS' 

W* Ejiaminer.] IFthnmry 2, 1817, 

There has been little new this week. A new after-piece or melo- 
drame has been brought forward at Covcnt<garden, and the old farce 
of the Pannel revived at Drury-Lanc, Wc can say but little in praise 
of the former, except the excellence of the acting and the manner 
in which it is got up. The strength of the house is mustered in a 
second-rate production, and from the list of names in the play-bills, 
the public go to see the performers, if not the performance, and come 
away at least half satisfied. They manage these things differently at 
Drury-lane, and not bo well. Wc deny ihat the comic strength of 
the two houses is so unequal as is sometimes supposed. For instance, 
at Dmry-lane, they have Munden, Dowton, Oxberry, and Knight; 
Harley is droll too ; and in women, they beat them out and out, for 
they have Miss Kelly. To be sure, they have not Listen ; so they 

S03 



'THE PANNEL' AND 'THE RAVENS' 



muii kick the beam. Mr. Liiton is die greatest comic genius of the 
age. If we were very dull and sad indeed, we ihoold avoid going to 
any farce or comedy in which he did not appear, a« only tantalising 
to our feelings, ana promising relief without affording it : but wc 
must be dull indeed, if we did not bite at the bait of Mr. Listoo's 
/.u^in Log. Hia comic humour is a sort of oil or * balsam of fierabras' 
for ail imaginary wounds that are not a foot deep. His laugh might 
tickle royalty itself after the howling of the rabble, or make one of 
the wax figures at Mrs. Salmon's relax from the inllcxibility of its 
state. Then there is Miss tStephens at Covent-gardcn, and there 
are the three Miss Dennets — -like 'Circe and the Sirens three.' Wc 
always see the Miss Dennets at the theatre, and they sometimes glide 
before our imagination at other times ; but we seldom hear Miss 
Stephens now. We want to see her again in Maruiane^ in which wc 
have seen her eight times already, and to hear her sing If otr the 
cruel tyrant Love, which wc could hear her sing for eyer. We want 
to sec her in P(tiiy for the seventh time, and in Rosetta for the 6fth, 
we believe it will be, when we see her in it again, which will be when 
she next plays in it. Pray how long will it be first, Mr. Fawcett ? 
Wc suppose not till Miss 0*NeiJI is tired of tiring the audience in 
Mn* Oaiiey^ or * the ravens arc hoarse that croak over Mr. Emery's 
head ' in the Pangs of Conscience. Something netv, altirayi sometiiii^ 
luvu. That is the taste of Covcnt Garden, and the town. It is not 
cur's. We are for something old. Toujoun perdrix. We like to read 
the same books, and to see the same plays, and the same faces over 
again — alwayj provitietl we liked them at first. Now there is one 
face which we never liked, and never hhall like, which is the face of 
Tyranny, and the older it gets, the uglier it gets in our eyes, and in 
this, as a matter of taste, we differ entirely wttli Mr. Canning, though 
he has been declared by a classical auOiority to be * the most elegant 
mind since Virgil.' Wc differ with him notwithstanding. — The 
Ravenj, or the Pangs of Conjctence^ is a melo-drame taken from the 
French, of the same breed, but an inferior specimen, as the Mmd and 
Magpie, and tlie Family of Anglade^ It is a kind of renewal of the 
age of augury adapted to the modern theories of probability, by being 
reduced within the limits of natural history. These pieces ukc for 
their text the lines, 

*■ And choughs and magpies sbaJI bring forth 
The »cret'st man of blood.' 

In the Pangs of Conseience, as in the Maid of Pafuseau, there is a 
robbery, a trial of persons innocently suspected of it, and a discovery 
of the real perpcuators, just at the critical moment^ by the interven- 
304 



'JOHN GILPIN' 

tion of two of the feathered creation. Just as «entence has been 

Sronounced on the suppofted criminals (Terry and Blanchard) by the 
udge, (Barryniore, who really performed this character admirably) 
two Ravcna Ry in upon the stage, the same who had hovered over 
the scene of the murder and robbery in the adjacent forest, and by 
their Mlent but dreadful appeal to the coDBcieocc of Jacguts du Noir 
(Emery), who is not hkc his cousin Bruno du Noir (poor Farley) 
a hardened, but a conscientious villain, reveal the mystery of the 
whole transaction, by which the guilty arc punished, and the ioooceat 
miraculously escape. — There was some fine and powerful acting by 
Emery in the part of the repentant assassin. Bruno in vain endearoun 
to appease and (]uiet him, but he still roars out lustily to give vent 
both to the pangs of his conscience and the * grief of a wound ' which 
he has got in the encounter from an old rusty fowling-piece of 
Fawcctt's, whom they plunder and kill. The greatest part of this 
romantic fiction is tedious, and the whole of it improbable, but from 
the goodness of the acting, and some strokes of interest in the situa- 
tions, it went off with applause. Of the Pantui, we have only room 
to add that wc think Beatrice, who is the subordinate heroine of the 
piece, the best specimen of Mrs. AJsop's acting. We saw it from a 
remote ]}art of the house, and her voice and manner at this distance 
sometimes reminded u« of her mother's. 



JOHN GILPIN 

Til ExmmiHer,] [May 4, 1817. 

Divtr-LANc 

When Mr. Dowton advertised for his benefit that he was to appear 
in the after-piece as Jokn Gi/pin, and to ride for that night only, we 
immediately felt tempted to go as the »clf-3ppointcd executors and 
residuary legatees of the original author of the story, who conclude! 
his account with these two lines — 

* And when he next does ride abroad. 
May wc be there to see.' 

So we took upon us to fulfil Cowper's wish, and went to see, not 
Jofm Gilphf nor, as wc are credibly informed, even Mr. Dowton, 
but something very laughable, and still more absurd, which had how- 
ever a certain charm about it, from the very name of the hero of the 
piece. We have an interest in John Gilpin ; aye, almost as great an 
interest as we have in ourselves; for we remember him almost as 
long. We remember the prints of him and his travels hung round a 
VOL. XI. : u 505 



•JOHN GII-PIN' 

little parlour where we u»ed to Tisit when we were children — jurt 
about the time of the beginning of the French Rerolutioo. While 
the old ladic8 were playing at whist, and the young ones at forfeits, 
we crept about the stdei of the room and tracked John Gilpin from 
his counter to hii horae, from his own door to the turnpikct and far 
beyond the turnpike gate and the bell at Edmonton, with loss of wig 
and hat, but with an increasing impetus and repatadoD, the farther he 
went from home. 

'The turnpike men their gale* wide open threw. 
He carries weight, he rides a race, 
'Tis for a thousand pounds.' 

What an impression was here made, never to be effaced 1 What a 
thing it is to be an author, and how much better a thing it is to be a 
reader, with all the pleasure and without any of the trouble — but 
without any of the fame, you will say. That is not worth two-pence. 
And yet true fame is something, the fame, for instance, of Cowper or 
of Thomson — not to lire in the mouths of pedants, and coxcombs, 
and professional men, but in the heart and soul of every living being, 
to mingle with every thought, to beat in every pulse, to be hailed 
with transport by those who are young, and to be remembered with 
regret by those who are old, to be * tirst, last, and midst ' in the 
minds of others. True fame is like a Lapland sun, that never goes 
down ; it rises with ue in the morning, and rolls round and round till 
our night of life. Why, look here, what a thing it is to be an author! 
John GUpin delighted us when we were children, and were we to die 
to-morrow, the name oi John GUpin would excite a momentary sense 
of pleasure. The same feeling of delight, with which at ten years 
old we read the story, makes us thirty years after go, laughing, to see 
the play. In all that time, the remembrance has been cherished at 
the heart, like the pulse that sustains our life. *TKat ligament, fine 
as it was, was never broken ! ' and yet it was nearly broken the other 
night, in the after-piece of this name, and would have been quite so 
for the evening, if it had not been for Mr. Munden, who, as a sub- 
ordinate agent, prevented Mr. Dowton from breaking his neck in the 
principal character. We differed from the audience on this occasion, 
who aid not much relish Mr. Munden in his part of a cockney; we 
relished him altogether and mightily. His speech, his countenance, 
and his dress, were in high costume and keeping. There was a greai- 
ncBS of gusto about Timothy BrittUt Mn, Gi/pin'j favourite but 
unfortunate son-in-law. It might be said of Mr. Munden in this 
character, that not only did his dress appear to have come fresh from 
the shop-board, his coat, bis pantaloons, his waist-coat — but his speech 
306 



*DON GIOVANNI; ETC. 

vas clipped and snipped as with a pair of sheers, and his face 
looked just as if the tailor's goose had gone over it. It was a fine 
and inimitable piece of acting, but it was damned. — Dowton, in The 
Rivait, plavcd Mn. Malapropt and Mrs. Sparks played Sir yfnthony 
Absoiuu. We cannot say much of these transformations, for the 
performers themselves remained just the same, breeches and petti- 
coats out of the question ; nothing was transformed or ridiculous but 
their dress. Dowton was as blunt and bluff, and Mrs. Sparks was 
as keen, querulous, and scolding, as in any of their usual characters. 
The effect was flat after the first m/rrV, and the whole play was, in 
other respects, very poorly got up; — quite in the comic negRge of 
Drury-iane, — We ought to say something of Mrs. Hill, who came 
out on Tuesday evening as Lady Macbeth, She is neither a good 
nor a bad actress. She has, however, a sentimental drawl in her 
voice and manner which is very little to our taste, and not at ail in 
character as Lady Macbeth. The King never dies. Why should 
Mrs. Siddons ever die ? Why, because Kings are fictions in law : 
Mrs. Siddons was one of nature's greatest works. 



/ 



DON GIOVANNI AND KEAN'S EUSTACE 
DE ST. PIERRE 



The Eramiiut.) 



[May 18, 1817. 



The last time we saw the Opera of Don Giovanni was from a distant 
part of the house : wc saw it the other evening near ; and as the 
impression was somewhat different, wc wish to correct one or two 
things in our former statement. Madame Fodor sings and acts the 
part of Zerlina as charmingly as ever, but she docs not hoi it so well 
near as at a greater distance. She has too much em bon point, is too 
broad-set for the Idea of a young and beautiful country girl : her 
mouth is laughing and good-natured, but docs not answer to Spenser's 
description of Belpkebe^ — and it cannot be concealed that Zerlina^ the 
delightful Zerlina, has a cast in her eyes. Her singing, however, 
made us forget all these defects, and after the second line of La ci 
darem, we had quite recovered from our disappc»ntment. On the 
whole, wc at present prefer the air of Fedrai Carinot which she slogs 
to Mojetto to comfort him, even to the duet with Don Giovanni, 
There was some uncertainty about encoring her in this song, — not, 
we apprehend, because the audience were afraid of tiring the actress, 
but because they .were tired themselves. Madame Fodor was encored 

307 



'DON GIOVANNI; ETC. 

in all her «ongB throughout the piece. — This might be thoQght hard 
upon her ; we dare say ihe would have thought it harder if she had 
not. Sigrxir Ambrogettt's acting as Don Giovanni improves upon a 
nearer acquaintance. There is a softness approaching to effeminacy 
in the expression of hia face, which accords well with the character, 
and an insinuatiDg archness in hia eye, which takes off from the violent 
effect of his action. The serenade of Don Giovanni was omitted, 
Aj to Naldi, he ii in too confirmed possession of the stage to be 
corrigible to advice. He is one of those old birds that are not to 
be caught with chaff. The sly rogue, LeporeUot seems to have grown 
grey in the service of iniquity, and hangs his nose over the stage with 
a formidable bravura aspect, as if he could suspend the orchestra 
from it. Angrisani is an admirablef and we might say, ftrst-rate 
comic actor. He has fine features ; a manly, rustic voice ; and we 
never saw disdain, impatience, the resentment and relenting of the 
jealous lover, better expressed than in the scene lietween him and 
Madame Fodor, where she makes that affecting a])peal to his forgive- 
ness in the song of B<Me^ BaiU^ Matttto. It was inimitably acted 
on both sides. 

DxiniT-LAHi. 
Mr. Kcan has appeared in Euttace de St. Pierre in the Surrender 
of Calait. He has little to do in it ; and he might as well not have 
appeared in the character, for he does nut look well in it. He was 
l^dJy dressed in a doublet of green baize, and in villainous yellow 
hoBC. It was like the player's description of Hecuba — 

' A clout upon that hrad 
Where late the diadem stood : and for a robe 
A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up.' 

But we shall not, * though we have seen this, with tongue in venom 
steep'd, pronounce treason against fortune's state,' or against the 
Managers of Drury-lane. Mr, Kean shewed his usual talents in 
this part ; but it afforded less scope and fewer opportunities for them 
than any part in which we have ever seen him. We are not sorry, 
however, that he has got into the part, as a kind oi truce with tragedy. 
Why should be not, like other actors, sometimes have a part to walk 
through ? Must we for ever be expecting from him, as if he were a 
little Jupiter tonam, 'thunder, nothing but thunder? ' It is too much 
for any mortal to play Othello and Sir Gi/ej in the same week — we 
mean, as Mr. Keon play^ them. He is, we understand, to appear in 
a new character, and sing a new song, for his benefit to-morrow week. 

308 



CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY PEOPLE 



CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY PEOPLE 

Tiu Examiatr.] [JuJjf i8, 1819. 

*Here be tnithl.* — Doghtrry, 

First, there is an old woman in the neighbouring village, fifty-six 
years old, with a wooden teg, who ncrer saw a leg of mutton roasted, 
or a piece of beef put into the pot ; and who regards any person who 
has not lived all his life on rusty bacon as a non-dcscript or * mountain 
foreigner.' Yet this venerable matron, who oow olTiciates as cook to 
a lady * retired from public haunts ' into a remote part of the country, 
kept her father's house, who was a little farmer, for twenty years; 
so that she ranks, in the scale of riiral existence, above her neighbours. 
What then must the notions of most of them be of the lavoir vtwi ? 
Is this the sum and. substance of all our boasts of the roast-beef of old 
England ? — The truth is, that the people in this part of the country 
(I do not know how it ii in others) have neither food nor cloathiog 
wherewith to be content ; nor are they content without them, nor 
with those that have them. Any one dressed in a plain broad-cloth 
coat is in their eyes a sophisticated character, as outlandish a figure 
as my Lord Fappington. A smock-frock, and shoes with hob-nails 
in them, are an indispensable part of country etiquette ; and they 
hoot at or pelt any one, who is presumptuous enough to depart from 
this appropriate costume. This, if we may believe a philosophical 
poet of the present day, is the meaning of the phrase in Shakespear, 

* pelting villages,' he having been once set upon in this manner by 

* a crew of patches, rude mechanicals,* who disliked him for the 
fantastic stranjjeness of his appearance. Even their tailors (of whom 
you might expect better things) hate decency, and will spoil you a 
suit of clothes, rather than follow your directions. One of them, 
the little hunch-backed tailor of P — tt— o, with the handsome 
daughter, whose husband ran away from her and went to sea, was 
ordered to make a pair of brown or snutf-colourcd breeches for my 
friend C L ; — instead of which the pragmatical old gentle- 
man (having an opinion of his own) brought him home a pair of 

* lively Lincoln-green,' in which I remember he rode in triumph in 
Johnny Tremain's cross-country caravan through Newberry, and 
entered Oxford, * fearing no colours,' the abstract idea of the jest 
of the thing prevailing in hia mind (as it always does) over the sense 
of personal dignity. 

If a stranger comes to live among country people, they have a bad 
opinion of him at first; and all he can do to overcome their dislike, 
only confirms them in it. It is in vain to attempt to conciliate them : 



CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY PEOPLE 



the more jtm xmc co prrwadr chcm that yoa noa xhan do har^^ 
the more they are d e ta m im A aot to be coorioced. Tbey ; 
any civility or kiadacM jxm Atw tfaoD to a de^pi to cajole tbcn.! 
Tbcy are oo« to be takoi io hj ^pcvaoces. They are /er^ . 
and not to be tamed by art. la y rop o c tiu o a* yoa give them oo caoael 
of ofTeoce, chcy ■m re ooo cbcir vbole nock of prejudice, impudeDc^l 
aod cunnii^ to aid their toneriiig opcnioo ; aod lute you the roorei 
for the tnjnsicc they aecm to do yon. Tfaey had rather you did 
them an injury that they mi^t keep their origioai opinion of you. 
If there if the tmallest circomataoce or iofinuatioD to your prejodice, 
their rancour agaiiut you, and iclf-complaceticy in their own Bagactty, 
eagerly acizea bold of it ; faoi their tttipicioDs into a Bame, and breaks 
out into open intuit and ail the triumph of brutal derision. Oo the 
contrary, if they find you, after all, a quiet, inoffensive person, they 
think you a fool, and so hare you that way. Used to contempt, 
they lure not much respect to spare for other people. Finding 
themselres none the better for them, they have not much faith io 
your demonstrations of good-will towards them. Prepared for 
repulses and hard treatment, the expression of their gratitude is not 
very spontaneous or sincere. — An aged Sylnl of this place, having 
gone to a lady, who had juat settled here, with a doleful tale 
distress, and an empty bottle, received a shilling instead of having] 
her bottle replenished with liquor ; when being met on her return 
by one of her gossips coming on the same errand, and being asked 
her success, she held up her empty bottle in sign of scorn, saying, 
'Look here! ' Such is the icau idea/ of unsophisticated human 
nature in her obscure retreats, about which there have been so many 
* songs of delight and rustical roundelays.' 

Is it strange that these people who know nothing, hate all that 
they do not understand ? Their rudeness, intolerance, and conceit, 
arc in exact proportion to their ignorance: for as they never saw or| 
scarcely heard of any thing out of their own village, erery thing elae* 
at^ears to them odd and unaccountable, and tbey cannot suspect that 
their own notions are wrong, when they arc totally unacquainted 
with any others. Wc naturally despise whatever baffles our compre- 
hension, and dislike what contradicts our prejudices, tilt wc are 
taught better by a liberal course of study ; but these people are no 
better taught than fed. It is a rule which they act upon as self- 
evident, and from which you will not gel them to flinch in a hurry — 
to scout every proceeding which differs from their own, and to 
consider every person, of whose birth, parentage, and education, they 
do not know the several particulars, as a suspicious character. They 
hare no knowledge of literature or the fine aru; which, if ooce 

$IQ 



CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY PEOPLE 



banished from the city and the court, would sood * be trampled in 
the mire under the hoofs of a swinish multitude/ A mischievous 
wag of the present day undertook to read some pastoral and lyrical 
etfiuions, (remarkable for their simplicity) to a collection of Cumber- 
land peasants, to see if they would recognise the sentiments put into 
their mouths ; and they only (which was what he expected) laughed 
at him for his pains. ' The spinsters and the knitters in the sun, and 
the free maids that weave their thread with bone*,' may indeed 
relieve the welcome pedlar of his wares, his laces, hia true loTC-knoUy 
or penny-Ballads, but they will have nothing to say to the Lyrical 
ballads, nor will the united counties of Westmorland, Cumberland, 
and Durham, subscribe to lighten the London warehouses of a single 
copy of the Excurjion, The hewers of wood and drawero of water 
know nothing of poetry, aiul they bate the very look of a poet. 
They like a painter as little. An artist who was making a sketch 
of a fine old yew tree in a romantic situation, was asked by a knowing 
handy if he could tell how many foot of timber it contained ? FaUtoff 
asks as a question not to be answered — * May I not take mine ease 
at mine inn \ ' But this was in liast-Chcap. I cannot do so in the 
country ; for while I am writing this, 1 hear a fellow disputing in 
the kitchen, whether a person ought to live (as he expresses it) by 
pen and ink; and the landlord the other day (in order, I suppose* 
the better to prepare himself for such controversies) asked me if I 
bad any object in reading through all those books which I had 
brought with me, meaning a few odd volumes of old plays and 
novels. The people born here cannot tell how an author gets his 
living or passes his time ; and would fain hunt him out of the place 
as they do a strange dog, or as they formerly did a conjuror or a 
witch. Ask the first country clown you meet, if he ever heard 
of Shakespear or Newton, and he will stare in your face : and I 

remember our laughing a good deal at W — 's old Molly, who 

had never heard of the French Revolution, ten years after it hapjiencd. 
Ob worse than Gothic ignorance ! 

They have no books, nor ever feel the want of them. How 
indeed should they ? * They have no works of poetry or fiction, to 
* fleet the golden time carelessly ; ' but they do not therefore want 
for fabulous resources. Necessity is the mother of invention ; and 
their talent for lying and scandaJ is nourished by the very lack of 
materials.^ They live not by bread alone, but by erery word that 

* At Salisbury, which ti a cathedral and connty town, yoa caooot get a copy of 
Congreve or Wych«rley at any of the thopi. 

' The knack o{ ofT-haoil, unprincipled, idle fabrication i* not auiated, but the 
contrary, by general knowledge or regular education. Women, for this reBion, 

3»< 



CHARACTEK OF THE COUNTKV PEOPLE 

procecdeth oar of their mouths. They arc employed, like the 
Athenians of old, in hearing or telling some new thing. The draw- 
well is the source from which they pump up idle rumours, and the 
blacksmith's shop is the place at which they forge the proofs, and 
turn them to shape, * giving to airy nothing a local habitation and « 
name.' They lie like devils through thick and thin. They tell 
and believe all incredible things ; and the greater the improbability, 
the more readily and greedily Is it swallowed, for it imposes more 
on the imsgination. To tlevate and ntrprtte is the great rule for 
producing a theatrical or pastoral effect. People in a state of nature 
Mlicve any thing for want of something to divert the mind» as they 
plot mischief for want of better employment. Credulity and impoa- 
ture are two of the strongest propensities of the human mind. Men 
are as prone to deceive themselves as others, without any other 
temptation than the exercise it atTords to the imagination. It is a 
false test of historical evidence, that it is necessary to assign a motive 
why men should consent to be dupes or undertake to be cheats. 
Curiosity is the source of superstition ; for we must have objects to 
occupy the attention, and fill up the craving void of knowledge ; and 
in the absence of truth, falsehood is called in to supply its place, and 
with the gross and ignorant, supplies it much better. To ask why 
tlie untutored savage believes every marvellous story that is told him, 
in the dearth of all real knowledge, is to ask why he slakes his 
thirst at the first fountain that he meets, or devours the prey he has 
just uken. With all their tendency to bigotry and superstition, 
country people have scarcely any idea of religion. They have as 
little divine as human learning. The Bible is the only book tbcy 
have, but that they do not read, except with spectacles, when they 
grow old and half-blind. They are to a man and woman of Mrt, 
Ouieklyt opinion — ' Hut 1 told him a' should not think of God yet.' 
They go to church, to be sure, as a matter of course, and from not 
knowing what else to do with themselves on Sundays; but they 
never think of what they hear, from one week's end to another. 
Heaven and Hell arc out-of-the-way places, not accessible to the 
■pprehrniions of those whose ideas cannot get beyond the parish 
where they were born ; and their Joys or sorrows inditferenl to an 
tmaginationi taken up with the wants of the belly. An old woman, 
who lived in a cotugc by herself, on hearing the account of the 
Crucilixion, said it was a sad thing, but she hoped it was not true, 
M it happened so far off and such a long time ago. A servant girl, 

htvfl the bsllcr of ibctr huibandi in tnimpins up •uddcn excuses sod coatriviaccs 
lh«l have DO foundation to fact or mion ; and their Krvint-miida, who arc more 
ufifituciUil itUl, br«t Uum hollow at the tame paltry game of croM.pQrpoMS. 

5»» 



CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY PEOPLE 

bearing a Sermon read in which there was a striking account of the 
Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, was very much alarmed, and 
^uid she hoped it would not be in her time* The Decalogue has no 
errors, and the Book of Revelations no charms for them. They 
^will be damnedf but they will steal and lie, and bear false witness 
against each otiier ; or if they do not, it is the fear of being hanged* 
or whipped, or summoned before the Justice of the Peace* and not 
of being called to account in another world, that prevents them. 
They are of the earth, earthy. They take thought only for the 
morrow ; or rather, conform to the text — ' Sufficient to the day is 
the evil thereof.' There is not a greater mistake, or a more wilful 
fallacy, than the common observation, that the lower orders are kept 
in order (and can only be so) by their faith in religion. They have 
no more belief in it practically than most of their betters, who propose 
10 keep them in order by it, have speculatively. The ignorant and 
destitute are restrained from certain things by the fear of the law, or 
of what will be said of them by their neighbours ; and as to other 
things which are denounced by Scripture, but to which no penaltj' 
attaches here, they think if they have a mind to do them, and chuse 
to go to hell for it, they have a right to do so. That is their phrase. 
It is nobody's business but their own. It is (generally speaking) 
the absence of temptation or opportunity, and not an excess of 
religious apprehension, that keeps them within the pale of salvation. 
Their self-will balances their fear of the Devil, and when it comes to 
the push, the present motive turns the scale, and the flesh proves too 
hard for the spiriL Bums's old man in the Cottar^t Saturday Night 
must pass for a very poetical character, at least in this part of the 
country. We sec constant accounts in the papers, in the case of 
malf factors that have come to an untimely end, thai it was owing in 
the Jirst instance to the want of religion, to the habit of swearing and 
Sabbath-breach. The same account would hold equally true of those 
who ire not hanged : for li all but the godly and sober among the 
lower classes came to the gallows, the population would soon be 
thinned to a surprising degree. 

* Twould thin the land 
Sueli numbers to string on Tybum tree.' 

An to the regular church^going peasantry, there can be no great 
difTerence as to religious light and feelings between them and their 
forefathers in the time of Popery, when the service was performed 
in Latin, as it is at present in most foreign countries. The only 
religious people (except as a matter of outward shew and ceremony) 
arc sectaries; for the instant religion becomes a subject for serious 

313 



J 



CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRY PEOPLE 

thought and prirate reflectioa, it produces diflierences of opiiuOD« 
which branch out into as many speculative fancies and forms of 
worship, as there arc differences of temper or accidents of education.^ 
This, however, is the exception, not the rule, in the present state of 
things — now that zeai is no longer kindled at the fires of persecution, 
and that Acts of Uniformity no longer throw the whole country 
into a ferment of opposition. The missionaries and fanatics some- 
times indeed set up a methodist chapel, where the staid inhabitants go 
in an evening to spite the parson of the parish, or to while away an 
hour or so ; or perhaps a melancholy mechanic has a serious call 
and holds forth, or a pining spinster, moved by the spirit to listen 
to him — 

* Anon as patient as the female dove. 
The whilst her golden couplets are disclos'd, 
Awhile sits drooping : * 

but the younger and healthier sort make a sport of it as of any other 
fantastical innovation ; throw owls and skeletons of kites and carrton 
crows into the place of worship; and make a viotent noise alt the 
time the parson is preaching, to drown the nasal twang of eTangelicat 
glad-tidings, and the comfortable groans of the faithful. — Alt this 
while there is no end of the bastard-getting and swearing : and a girl, 
after having had three or four children by the same man, or by different 
men (as it happens), and who is as big as she can tumble again, is at 
length asked in church, without much scandal or offence to the 
community. It is a new topic for the village, and is excused on that 
account. It is, besides, an evidence quashed ; and whatever others 
may take ii into their heads to do, she need not talk. Liberality 
flourishes ; a good example is set; and the species is propagated witii 
as little trouble and formality as possible. The parson gets some- 
thing by the christening, and the apothecary has a finger in the pie. 
This is a state of things which ought to be reformed — but how or 
when? 

' It it obterveit and perhaps juitly that the tnttnlxn or the EsIabIiib«'J Church 
arc the plcauntcit lort af pcoplf; to deal with. DiiKnteri arc more loured by the 
leaven of religion. The oihert du not trouble ihemselvet enough about it to come 
to a coocluiioQ of their owo, or to <]Uirrel with otbcr people who do. They tre 
rcUgioua merely out of conformhy to the practice of the age and country id 
which they live, and follow that which h«i authority sad numbers oa Its side. 



3"* 



MACREADY^S MACBETH 



MR. MACREADY'S MACBETH. 

TJkt Extmintr.] [Imt 2$, iSlO. 

Mr. Mackeady's Macbeth^ which he had for his beneBt, and which he 
has played once or twice sioce, is a judicious and spirited performance. 
But we are not in the number of those who think it his finest char- 
acter. Sensibility, not imagination, is hxi/orte. Natural expression, 
human feeling, seema to woo him like a bride ; but the ukal and 
preternatural beckon him only at a distance and mock his embraces. 
He sees no dim, portentous risions in bis mind's eye ; his acting has 
DO shadowy landscape back-ground to surround it ; he is not waited on 
by spirits of the deep or of the air ; neither fate nor metaphysical aid 
arc in league with him ; he is prompter to himself, and treads within 
the circle of the human heart. The machinery in MiuUth is so far 
lost upon him : there ia no secret correspondence between him and 
the Weird Sisters. The poet has put a fruitless sceptre in his hand, 
— a curtain is between him and the • air-drawn dagger with its gouts 
of blood ' ; he docs not cower under the traditions of the age, or 
startle at 'thick-coniiog fancies.' He is more like a man debating 
the reality, or questioning the power of the grotesque and unimaginable 
forms that horer round him, than one hurried away by his creduloai 
hopes, or shrinking from intolerable fears. There is not a weight of 
nper&titious terror loading the atmosphere and hanging over the stage 
when Mr. Macready plays the part. He has cast the cumbrous 
slough of Gothic tragedy, and comes out a mere modern, agitated by 
common means and intelligible motives. The preternatural agency is 
no more than an accompaniment, the pretended occasion, not the 
indispensable and all-powerful cause. It appears to us then, that this 
excellent and able actor, jtrmk short of the higher and imaginative 
part of the character, and consequently was deficient in the huniao 
passion, which is the mighty appendage to it. We thought Mr. 
Macready in a manner conscious of this want of entire poasession of 
the character. He was looking out for new readings, transposing 
attitudes and stage effects, trying substitutes and experiments, studying 
passages instead of reciting them, rehearsing Macbeth^ not bcm^ it. 
His performance of it was critical and fastidious : you would say that 
he was considering how he shouid act the part, so as to avoid certata 
errors or produce certain effects — not that he ever flung himself into 
the subject, and swam to shore, safe from carping objection, and above 
the reach of all praise. Mr. Macready docs not often imiute other 
actors, but he endeavours not to imitate them, and that 's almost as 
bad. He should 



icavours not to imitate them, and that s almost as ri, % ^^ 1 
think of nothing but his part, and rely on nothing /^ ^_ A^ ^\ 



^ 




MACREADY'S MACBETH 



bu( hi» own powers. Singutarity is not exceUrocc. If to follow in 
the track of others shews a servile gmius and picifut amtuuoo, neither 
u it right to go out of the nrait road merely because others travel in 
it — * but itill to follow nature is the rule * — John Kemble was the 
best MoiUth (upon the whole) that we have seen. There was a 
ttifft horror-stricken statelincss in his person and manner, like a man 
bcarin]; up against lupemal influences; and a bewildered distraction, 
a perplexity and at the same time a rigidity of purpose, like one who 
haid been stunned by a blow from fate. Mr. Kean is great only in one 
scene, that after the mnrder of Duncan ; his acting also consists only 
in the direct embodying of human passion, and is entirely * docked 
and curtailed ' of the sweeping train of poetical imagination. On the , 
evening we saw Mr. Macrcady*s Macheth Mrs. Faucit played i<d 
MaciKth^ and acted up to that arduous part with great spirit and self- 
possession ; and Mr. Terry was the representative of Macduff. The 
only fault of this gentleman's acting is its slowness. The words fall 
from his lips, like pendent drops from icicles. A speech, as he gives 
it, is equal to *twa lang Scotch miles.' This not only causes a stag- 
nation and heaviness in the sentiments, but often cuts the sense in two. 
Thus in the exclamation which Macduff utters on hearing of thej 
slaughter of his children, 'Oh Hell-Kite, all? ' Mr. Terry paused" 
at the hyphen, as if to take time to think, and by this means made it 
like an apoBtrophc to * Hell,* adding the other Fyllablc of the word, 
which determined the meaning and direction of his thoughts, after- 
wards. Mr. ligerton as usual played Bamiuo, and makes as solid a 
Ghost as we would wish to encounter of a winter's eve, 

David Rizzio we have not been able to get a peep at : but a friend 
whispered ut that it was poor, and wc sec it is praised in the Nev/ 
Times \ 

On Friday Miss Stephens had a bumper for her benefit* The 
entertainments were the Lord of the ManoKj a Concert, and the 
Libertine. Id the (irst, Mr. Duruset from indisposition, and after 
making one feeble effort, omitted the songs, by the indulgence of the 
audience ; after that, we do not sec why he should be required to go 
through the rest of the part, for he has not * a speaking face.' .loncs's 
Mr. Controjt is a striking, ^Isome fop. But he makes foppery not 
only an object of laughter, but of disgust ; and perhaps this is going 
beyond the mark intended. We would recommend to our readers to 
go and see Mr. Liston's Mo// Flagon by all means. It is irresistible. 
We may say of it with the poet — 



* Let thoM lauffh now who never laugh 'd before, 
And those who still have laugfa'd now laugh the more.* 



3>6 




GUY FAUX 

Mrs. Salmon's singing in the Concert wai * d'une pathetique a faire 
fendre lea rochers,' — and Miu Stephens's Echo long Gecmed lung by 
a Spirit or an enchantresB. We were gl»d to hear it, for we have an 
attachment to Miu Stephens on account of 'auld lang syne * (we like 
old frieodBhipB better than new), and do not wish that little murmur- 
Ing syren Miss Tree to wean us from our old and artlesB favourite. 
— Those were happy days when first Miss Stephens began to sing ! 
When she came out in ManJane, in PoUy^ and in Rosetta in Lom€ in 
a VMidi^e 1 She came upon us by surprise, but it was to delight and i 
charm us. There was a new sound in the air, like the Toice of 
Spring ; it was as if Music had become young again, and was resolved 
to try the power of her softest, simplest, sweetest notes. Lore and 
Hope listened, as her clear, liquid throat poured its delicious warb- 
lings on the ear, and at the clwe of every strain, still called on Echo 
to prolong the sound. They were the sweetest notes wc ever heard, 
and almost the last we ever heard with pleasure ! For since then, 
other events not to be named lightly here, but * thoughu of which can 
never from the heart' — 'with other notes than to the Orphean lyre,* 
have stopped our ears to the voice of the charmer. But since the 
voice of Liberty has risen once more in Spain, its grave and its birth 
place, and tike a babbling hound has wakened the echos in Galicia, in 
the Asturias, in Castile and Leon, and Estreraadura, why, we feel as 
if we * had three ears again ' and the heart to use them, and as if we 
could once more write with the same feelings (the tightness removed 
from the breast, and the pains smoothed from the brow) as we did 
when we gave the account of Misg Stephens's first appearance in the 
Bfggar*/ Opera. Life might then indeed * know the return of 
^riog,' — and end, as it began, with faith in human kind ! — 



GUY FAUX 

Tif Ex4mimr;\ [NovtmAer it, i8ai. 

Guy Faux is made into the figure of a scare-crow, a fifth of 
November bug-bear, in our history. Now that Mr. Hogg's JacoUte 
ReSct have dissipated the remains of an undue horror at Popery, 
it may seem the time to undertake the defence of so illustrious 
3 character, who has hitherto been the victim of party-prejudice and 
national spite. Guy Faux was a Popish Priest ia the reign of 
James i., and for his unsuccessful attempt to set fire to the House 
of Lords, and blow up the English Monarchy, the Protestant 
Religion, and himself, at one stroke, has had the honour to be 
annually paraded through the streets, and burnt in cfTigy in every 

J»7 



i 



GUY FAUX 



town and village in Eoglaod from that time to this — that is, for the 
space of two hundred yean and upwards. It ii sometimes doubtful, 
indeed, from the coincidence of daces and other circumEtancea, 
whether this annual ceremony, accompanied as it is with the ringing 
of bells, the firing of guns, and the preaching of sermons, i« intended 
more to rcTiTc die formidable memory of • poor Guy,' or in cele- 
bration of the glorious landing of William nr., who came to dclirer 
U8 from Popery and Slavery a hundred years afterwards — two 
things which Mr. Hogg treat! as mere bagatelles in his Jacobite 
RcBet, though they do not appear so in the History of England; 
and to which the same writer assuret u», as an agreeable piece of 
coun-oewa that the present Family are by no mean» averse in their 
hearts! 

Guy Faux was a fanatic, but he was no hypocrite. He raaka 
among g9cd haUrj, He was cruel, bloody-minded, reckless of all 
considerations but those of an infuriated and bigotted faith ; but he 
was a true son of the Catholic Church, a martyr and a confessor, 
for all chat. He who can prevail upon himself to devote his life 
for a cause, however we may condemn his opinions or abhor bis 
actions, vouches at least for the honesty of his principles and the 
disinterestedness of his motives. He may be guilty of the worst 
practices, but he is capable of the greatest. He is no longer a 
slave, but free. The contempt of death is the beginning of virtue. 
l*he hero of the Gun-Powder Plot vras, if you will, a fool, a mad- 
man, an assassin ; call him what names you please : still he was 
neither knave nor coward. He did not propose to blow up the Parlia. 
meat and come off, scot-free, himself: he shewed that he valued his 
own life nu more than theirs in such a cause — where the integrity 
of the Catholic faith and the salvation of perhaps millions of 
souls was at stake. He did not call it a murder, but a sacrifice 
which he was about to achieve : he was armed with the Holy Spirit 
and with fire : he was the Church's chosen servant and her blessed 
martyr. He comforted himself as *lhc best of cut-throats.* How 
nuny wretches are there that wotdd have undertaken to do what he 
intended for a sum of money, if they could have got off with im- 
punity I How few are there who would have put themselves in Guy 
raux's situation to save the universe ! Yet in the latter case we 
afTeci (0 be throvm into greater constenution than at the most 
Hiirniremed acts of villany, as if the absolute disinterestedness of the 
motive doubled the horror of the deed ! The cowardice and selfish- 
nrai of mankind are in fact shocked at the consequences to them* 
iflves (if such examples are held up for imitation,) and they make a 
f««il\it ouicry against the violation of every principle of morality, 



GUY FAUX 



Jest they too should be called od for any aoch tremendous sacrifices 
— lest they in their turn should have to go on the forlorn hope 
of extra-official duty. Charity begitu at home, is a maxim that 
prevails as well in the courts of conscience as in those of prudence. 
We would be thought to shudder at the consequences of crime to 
others^ while we tremble for them to ourseWes. We talk of the 
dark and cowardly assassin ; and this is well, when an indiTidoal 
shrinks from the face nf an enemy, and purchases his own safety 
by striking a blow in the dark : but how the charge of cowardly 
can be applied to the public assassin, who, in the very act of destroy- 
ing another, lays down his life as a pledge and forfeit of his sincerity 
and boldness, I am at a loss to devise. There may be barbarous 
prejudice, rooted hatred, unprincipled treachery, in such an act ; but 
he who resolves to take all the danger and odium upon himself, can 
no more be branded with cowardice, than Regulus devoting himself 
for hie country, or Codrus leaping into the fiery gulf. A wily Father 
Inquisitor, coolly and with plenary authority condemning hundreds of 
helpless and unoffending victims to the flames or to the horrors of a 
living tomb, while he himself would not Butfer a hair of his head 
to be hurt, is to me a character without any qualifying trait in it. 
Again ; the Spanish conqueror .md hero, the favourite of his 
I monarch, who enticed thirty thousand poor Mexicans into a 
f large open building, under promise of strict faith and cordial 
good-will, and then set lire to it, making sport of the cries and 
agonies of these deluded creatures, is an instance of uniting the 
most hardened cruelty with the most heartless selfishness. His 

glea was keeping no faith with heretics : this was Guy Faux's too( 
ut I am sure at least that the latter kept faith with himself: he was 
in earnest in his professions. His was not gay, wanton, unfeeling 
depravity ; he did not murder in sport ; it was serious work that he 
had taken in hand. To see this arch-bigot, this heart-whole traitor, 
this pale miner in the infernal regions, skulking in his retreat with his 
cloak and dark lanthom, moving cautiously about among his barrels 
of gunpowder, loaded with death, but not yet ripe for destruction, 
regardless of the lives of others, and more than indifferent to his 
own, presents a picture of the strange infatuation of the human 
understanding but not of the depravity of the human will, without 
an equal. There were thousands of pious Papists privy to and 
ready to applaud the deed when done : — there was no one but 
our old (ifth-of- November friend, who still flutters in rags and straw 
on the occasion, that had the courage to attempt it. In him stem 
duty and unshaken faith prevailed over natural frailty. A man to 
undertake and contemplate with gloomy delight this desperate taak, 

SI9 



GUY FAUX 



couJd not certainly in the fint instance, be a man of tender senaibilicy, 
or over-liable to • the compunctious visitings of nature ' ; but he 
would Hi far only be on a level with many others» and he would 
be distinguished from them by a high principle of enthusiasm, 
and a disinterested zeal for truth. Greater love than this has no 
one, that he shall give up his life for the truth. We have no Guy 
Fauxea now : — not that we have not numbers tn whom ' the spirit 
is wilting, but the Hesh is weak.' We talk indeed of fliogtng the 
keys of the liouse of Commons into the Thames, by way of a little 
unmeaning splutter, and a little courting of popularity and persecution ; 
but to fling ourselves into the gap, and blow up the system and our 
own bodies to atoms at once, npon an abstract principle of right, does 
not suit the raScal scepticism of the age ! 

I like the spirit of martyrdom, I confess : I envy an ^e that had 
virtue enough in it to produce the mischievous fanaticism of a Guy 
Faux. A man's marching up to a masked-battery for the sake of 
company, is nothing : but a man's going resolutely to the stake rather 
than surrender his opinion, is a serious matter. It shews chat in the 
public mind and feeling there is something better than life ; that there 
IS a belief of something in the universe and the order of nature, to 
which it is worth while to sacrifice tliis poor brief span of exist- 
ence. To have an object always in view dearer to one than one's- 
self, to cling to a principle in contempt of danger, of interest, of 
the opinion of the world, — this i« the true idtai^ the high and heroic 
state of man. It is in fact to have a standard of absolute and 
implicit faith in the mind, that admits neither of compromise, degree, 
nor exception. The path of duty is one, the grounds of encourage- 
ment are fixed and invariable. Perhap« it is hardly possible to have 
such a standard, but where the certain prospect of^ another world 
absolves us from a miserly compact with this, and the contemplation 
of infinity forms an habitual counterpoise to the illusions of time and 
sense. An object of the highest conceivable greatness leads to 
unmingled devotion : the belief in eternal truth embodies itself on 
practical principles of strict rectitude, or of obstinate, but noble- 
minded error. 

There was an instance that happened a little before the time of 
Guy Faux, which, in a different way, has something of the same 
character, with a more pleasing conclusion. I mean the story of 
Margaret Lambrun ; and as it ii but little known, I shall here relate 
it as I find it : — 

* Margaret Lambrun was a Scotchwoman, and one of the retinue 
of Mary Qneen of Scots ; as was also her husband, who dying of 
grief for the tragical end of that princess, his wife took up a 

320 



GUY FAUX 



reftolation of revenging the death of both upon Queen Elizabeth. 
For that purpose she jiut on a man's habit ; and assuming the name 
of Anthony Sparkc, repaired to the Court of the Queen of England, 
always carrying with her a brace of pistols, one to kill Elizabeth, and 
the order to shoot herself, in order to avoid the hands of justice ; but 
her design happened to miscarry by an accident, which saved the 
Queen's life. One day, as she was pushing through the crowd to 
come up to her Majesty, who was then walking in her garden, she 
chanced to drop one of the pistols. This being seen by the guards^ 
she was neized in order to be sent immediately to prison ; but the 
Queen, not suspecting her to be one of her own sex, had a mind 
6r8t to examine her. Accordingly, demanding her name, country, 
and quality, Margaret replied with an unmoved steadiness, — 
** Madam, though I appear in this habit, 1 am a woman ; my name 
is Margaret Lambrun ; I was several years in the service of Queen 
Mary, my mistress, whom you have so unjustly put to death ; and 
by her death you have also caused that of my husband, who died 
of grief to see so innocent a queen perish so iniquitously. Now, 
as I had the greatest love and affection for both these persons, 
I resolved at the peril of my life to revenge their death by killing 
you, who are the cause of both.*' — The Queen pardoned her, and 
granted her a safe conduct till she should be set upon the coaic of 
France.' 

Fanaticism expires with philosophy, and heroism with refinement. 
There can be no mixture of scepticism in the one, nor any distraction 
of interest in the other. That blind attachment to individuals or to 
principles, which is necessary to make us stake our all upon a sbgle 
die, wears out witli the progress of society. Sandt— (the last of that 
school) — was a religious fanatic — a reader of the book of Maccabees, 
a repeater of the story of Jael and Sisera, a chaunter of the song of 
Deborah. What lighted up the dungeon-gloom in which Guy Faux 
buried himself alive ? The face of Heaven open to receive him. 
What cheered his undivided solitude? The full assembly of Just 
Men made perfect, the Glorious Company of Apostles, the Noble 
Army of Martyrs, the expecting Conclave of Sainted Popes, of 
Canonized Priests and Cardinals. What nerved his steady hand, 
and prepared it, with temperate, even pulse, to apply the fatal 
spark ? The Hand of the Most High stretched out to meet him 
and to welcome him into the abodes of the blest — *Well done, 
thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy 
Lord I ' In his face we see an anticipated triumph that * oo dtni 
doubts alloy ' ; he hears with no mortal ears the recording angeli 
* quiring to the young-eyed cherubim * ; a light 6a&hes round him, a 

TOL. XI. : X 311 



GUY FAUX 

beatific Tifiion, ffom the wings of the Shining Ones: he sits, wreathed 
and radiant, in the real presence ! What need be fear what men can 
do unto him ? To a hope like his, swallowed up in fruition, the 
shock that is soon to shatter hts mortal frame plays harmJcsi as the 
summer-lightning : the flames that threaten to envelope him are the 
weddinj^-parmcnt of the Spouse. 'This night thou shalt sup with 
me in Paradise' — rings in his sleepless ears. On this rock be 
builds his faith, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it ! — 
Guy Faux (poor wretch!) was as sure within himself of the 
reward of his crime in the eternal salvation of his soul, as of his 
iotention to commit it : he no more doubted of another world than 
he doubted of his own existence. A ({uestion whether bis whole 
creed might not be a delusion had never once crossed his mind. 
How should it ? He had never once heard it called in question. 
He believed in it as he believed in all he had ever seen or heard, or 
thought or felt, or been told by others — be believed in a future state 
as he believed in this, with liis senses and his undersundiog, and with 
all his heart. Poor Guy — that miserable fifth-of-Noveraber scare- 
crow, that stuHed straw figure, flaunting its own periodical disgrace — 
never once dreamt (oh! glorious inheritance!) that he should die 
like a dog. Otherwise, James and his parliament would have been 
in no jeopardy from him. He was not a person of that refinement. 
He thought for certain that he would go to Heaven or Hell ; and he 
played a bold, but (as he fancied) a sure game, for the former. 
With such objects at stake, and with bis own blinded reason, and a 
stifled conscience, and implicit faith, and vowed obedience, and holy 
Mother Church on his side, and a fixed hatred of heresy and of all 
that belonged to it, as of a strange birth in nature, that made his flesh 
creep and his brain reel, and a disregard of bis own person, as 'dross 
compared to the glory hereafter to be revealed,* lie acted up to his 
belief : the man was what he preached to others to be — no better, no 
worse. Without this belief supporting him, what would he have 
been ? Like the wretched straw-figure, the automaton we sec 
representing him, 'diBcmbowclIcd of his natural entrails, without a 
real heart of flesh and blood beating in his bosom,' a modern 
time-server, an nniiDpunoned stave, a canting Jesuit, a petty, 
cautious, meddling priest, a safe, underhand persecutor, an anonymous 
slanderer, a cringing sycophant, promoting his own interert by taking 
the bread out of honest mouths, a mercenary malignant coward, a 
Clerical Magistrate, a Quarterly Reviewer, a Member of the 
Constitutional Association, the concealed Editor of Biacifmood'i 



S»» 



GUY FAUX 



■'•the same subject continued 

Tit Exam:ntr.\ [A'trvewArr iS, tSzi. 

The diffusion of knowledge, of inquiry, of doubt (or what Lord 
Bacon calls *thc infinite agitation of wit') ]mu an end to * the soul 
of fToodncKs' that there is in bigotry and sujwrstition, and should to 
its evil spirit at the same lime. There is nothing so intolerable as 
the union (which we sec so common id modern times) of rcligiouB 
hypocrisy with literary scepticism. The real bigot is a respectable 
as well as enviable character. Not no the affected one. Downright, 
rooted, rancorous prejudices arc honest, hearty, wholesome things. 
TJiey keep the mind in breath* Not so the whining, hollow, designing 
cant, which echoes without feeling them. The barbarous cruelties of 
saragc tribes arc partly atoned for by the keen appetite for revenge in 
which they originate : but we do not extend the same excuse to those 
who poison for hire. The fires of Smtth6cld were kindled by a zeal 
that burnt as bright and fierce as they. Our contemporaries who are 
in the habit of throwing firebrands and death, do it without malice j 
and laugh at those who do not understand the jest. The multiplica- 
tion of sects dissipates and tames down the rage of martyrdom. The 
first grand defection indeed from an cfltabltshcd and universal faith, 
creates a shock and is assailed with a riolence proportioned to the 
6rmDcs8 with which the parent-belief has been rooted in the public 
mind: but the subsequent ramification of diifcrent schisms and modes 
of faith from the 6rst enormous heresy, tires out and neutralises the 
spirit of both persecution and fanaticism. Religious controversy is a 
war of words, and no longer a war of extermination. There may be 
the same heart-burnings, the same jeatouiies of difference of opinion ; 
but they do not lead to the same fatal cauitrophes or the same 
heroic sacriiiccs. We cannot bum or hang oae another for differing 
from the Catholic faith as a crime of the most dreadful import, when 
hardly any two men can be found to agree in the interpretation of the 
same text. All opinions, by constant collision and attrition, become, 
if not equally probable, equally familiar. Men's minds are slowly 
weaned from blind idolatrous bigotry and intolerant zeal, by the con- 
tinually increasing number of poiat« of controversy and the frequency 
of dispute. Then comes the general question as to the grounds and 
reasonableness of the doctrines of religion itself; and a sceptical, 
dispassionate. Epicurean work, like Bayie't Dictionary or Hume's 
JEisayj, gives the finishing blow to what little remains of dogmatical 
faith in established systems. After that, a zealot is another name for 
an imposter. The reasons for belief may be as good or stronger 
than ever ; but the belief itself, as it is more rational, is less gross and 

3*3 



GUY FAUX 



headeirong. The closest deduaions of the undrrsuoding do noi id 
like an instinct, or warrant a mortal antipathy ; and let the philoco- 
phical believer's convictions be what they will, he cannot affect an 
ignorance that it is possible for others to differ with him. A riolent 
and overstrained affectation of Orthodoxy is, after a certain time, a 
sure sign of insincerity : the only zeal that can claim to be ' according 
to knowledge,* is refined, calm, and considerate. I do not speik of 
this sort of mitigated, sceptical, liberalised, enlightened belief, as 
'a consummation devoutly to be wished:' (in my own particular, 
I would rather have held opinion with Guy Faux, and have gone or 
sent others to the Devil for that opinion) — I speak of the commtm 
course of human affairs. I remember once observing to Wilkie, the 
celebrated artist, that Dr. Chalmers (his old friend and schoolfellow) 
had started an objection to the Christian religion, in order to have 
the credit of answering it. The Scottish Teniers said, that if the 
answer was a good one, he thought him right in bringing forward the 
objection. I did not think this remark savoured of the acuteness one 
would expect from such a man as Wilkie, and only said, I appre- 
hended those opinions were the strongest which had been never ^led 
in question. Reojon'mg is not leiieving — whatever scfiiig may be* 
according to the proverb. 

A devoted and incorrigible attachment to individuals, as well as to 
doctrines, is weakened by the progress of knowledge and civilization. 
A spirit of scepticism, of inquiry, of comparison, is introduced there 
tooi by the course of reading, observation, and reflection, which 
strikes at the root of our disproportionate idolatry. Margaret 
Lambrun did not think there was such another woman in the world 
as her mistress, Queen Mary ; nor could she, after her death, sec 
any thing in it worth living for. Had she had access to a modern 
circulating library, she would have read of a hundred such beroinesi 
all peerless alike ; and would have consoled herself for the death of 
them all, one after another^ pretty much in the same manner. 
Margaret was not one of those who argue, according to Mr. Burke'a 
improved political catechism, that ^ a king is but a king ; a queeo ia 
but a woman ; a woman is but an animal ; and that not an animal of 
the highest order.' She had more respect of persons than this. 
The truth is, she had never seen such another woman as her mtstress« 
and she had no means, by books or otherwise, of forming an idea of 
any thing but what she saw. In that isolated state of society, people 
grew together like trees, and clung round the strongest for support, 
* as the vine curls its tendrils.' They became devoted to others wid 
the same violence of attachment as they were to themselves. Novels, 
plays, magazines, treatises of philosophy, Monthly Museums, and 

3*4 



I 



I 
I 
I 




I 



I 



GUY FAUX 

BiUtt jlitetnhHei, did oot fly io Dumberi about the country and 
•through the airy region stream so bright,* as to blot out the impres- 
sion of all real forms. The effects of habit, of sense, of service, of 
a^cction, did not find an ideal level in general literature and arti- 
ficial models. The heart, made its election ooce, and was tixed till 
death : the eyes doated on fancied perfection, and were divorced 
from every other object afterwards. There was not the same coro- 
muntcation of ideas; there was not the same change of place or 
acquaintance. The prejudices of rank, of custom, strengthened the 
bias of indinduat admiration ; and it is no wonder, where all these 
circumstances were combined, that the presence of a person, whom 
we had loved and serred, became a feeling, an appetite, and a passion 
in the mind, almost necessary to existence. The taking our idol 
away (and by cruel and treacherous means) would be taking away 
the prop that sustained life, and on which all the pride of the 
affections leant. Its loss would be the loss of another self; and a 
double loss of this kind (as in the instance alluded to) could seek, for 
no solace but in the death of her who had caused it. Where the 
mind had become Kretted to a certain object, where it had embarked 
its all in the sacred cause of friendship and inviolable fidelity, it would 
be in vain to offer the consolations of philosophy when the heart 
owned none. Other scenes, new friends, fresh engagements, might 
be proper for others ; but Margaret Lambrun's wounded spirit could 
find no relief but in looking forward lo a full revenge for a murdered 
mistress and husband. You might as well think of wedding the soul 
to another body, as of inspiring her with other hopes and thoughts 
than those which she had tost for ever :— she could not live without 
those whom she had loved so well and long, and she was ready to die 
for them. Life becomes indifTerent to a mind haunted by a passion 
of this sort. Death is not then a choice, but rather a necessity. 
Wc cannot live, and have the desire nearest to our souls. To play 
the hero, it is only necessary to be wound up to such an unavoidable 
interest in any thing, as reflection, prudence, natural instinct, have no 
power over. To be a hero, is, in other words, to lose the sense of 
our personal identity in some object dearer to us than ourselves. He 
may purchase any thing he pleases, who is ready to part with his life 
for it. Wherever there is a passion or belief strong enough to blind 
us to consequences, there the mind is capable of any sacrifice and of 
any undertaking. 

The beroical is the fanaticism of common life : it is the contempt 
of danger, of pain, of death, in the pursuit of a favourite idea. The 
rule of honour, as of conscience, is to contemplate things in the 
abstract, and never as affecting or rc-acting upon yourself; the hero 

3«5 



GUY FAUX 



18 an instrument in the hands of fate, as is himself impassive to lU 
blows. A man in a passion, or who is worked up to a certain pitch 
of enthusiasm, minds nothing else. The fear of death, the love of 
self, is but an idea or motive with a certain habitual strength. Raise 
any other idea or feeling to a greater habitual or momentary height, 
and it wil! supplant or overrule the first. Courage is sometimes the 
effect of despair. Women, in a fit of romance, or on some sudden 
emergency, have been known to perform feats of heroic daring, from 
which men of the stoutest nerves might shrink with dismay. 
Maternal lenderncBS is heroic. Affection of any kind, that doats 
upon a particular object, and absorbs every other consideration in that, 
is in its nature heroic.^ Passion is the great ingredient in heroisra. 
He who stops to retlect, to balance one thing against another, is a 
coward. The better part of valour is indiscretion. All passion is a 
short-tived madness, or state of intoxication, in which some present 
impulse or prevailing idea geca uncontrouled possession of the mind^ 
and lords it there at will, A man may be (almost literally) drunk 
with choler, with love, with jealousy, with revenge, as he may with 
wine or strong drink. Any of these will overpower his reason and 
tenses, and put him beyond himself. The master-feeling will prevail, 
whatever it is, and when it once gets the upper hand, will rage the 
more violently in proportion to the obstacles it has to encounter. 
Women who associate with robbers are cruel, as soon as they gel 
over their first repugnance: some of the bravest officers have been 
the greatest Martinets. A man who is afraid of a blow, or tciKler of 
his person, will yet, on being struck, feel nothing but the mortification 
of the affront, and the fear of discomfiture. The pain that is in6icted, 
after his blood is once up, will only aggravate his resentment, and be 
diverted from the channels of fear into those of rage and shame. He 

* There t> a common invcrtion of thii opinion, which Ji Jtiftfranoa \ or the 
becomint; rccklci) of ull coDict^uencei, poverty, diKiic, or death, from ditappoint- 
inetvt in lomc one thin; that the mind t» set upon, no matter what. A man who 
has been jilted of his firit choice marriei out of »pite the fim woman he meet*. 
A girl, wbote sweetheart i;oes to lea, bccauK the will not have hitn, ■• koaa u 
he il gone, anil the ii baulked of her fancy, runt a-muck at ruin ind infuny — 
' Ai men thould serve a cucumber, 
She throw* hertelf iway ! ' 
Lofliog fimeaten act nearly on the ume infatuated principle. Hirrcl, in Orr/w, 
niAkM a fine hair-braincii mock-heroic exit, I declare I prefer it to the inmba- 
tion of Gray'i Bard. Gamcftert and highwaymen arc to far heroes that it ii neck 
or nothing with them : they tet <:on»e<juencci at defiance. Their actioni are 
diiintereited j but their motivea are not to. A fortune-honting General standt 
much in the tame predicament. The abrtracted, the idcal^ it necctMry to the true 
heroic. But before a man can fight for an idea, he mutt have an idea in hit head 
to fight for. Now there arc tome Ceneralt that arc not nnderttood to potaen 
thii qualificatioa of the heroic character. 
326 



GUY FAUX 



ofi 



hose will is roused and holds out in ihit 
iind inflammability of spirit are pi 
iisastcr, tR said to 



w»y, wbo« 



I 



purpose : 
of pain, of fatigue, and disaster, tR said to hare pluek, So » m* ^_ 
not be able to reason himself into coolness at the rnmfmuiJuLJ.^*!^ 
a battle; but a ball whizzing near him does it, by «b«tnctin fc' 
imagination from a thousand idle fears, and ijuag it n/ W 
immediate situation and duty. The novice in u mummmwMK. u 
before was niotiuolcss with apprehension or trendJioffliv,^^ j ^^ 
after being hit, loses the sense of possible contiagiacits in ih* ^^ 
of his wound, and fights like a devil incarnate. rniiiK-n *x;' ^ 
too busy to think of himself. He rushes (""rletsly « in"*^'**™ 
death. A man in a battle is indeed emphatically i^j^^r^^jj** 
• bears a charmed life,* that in fancy disarms caaaos^^ mmT k, ii 
of their power to hurt. They arc mere names and m, — "U/Jets 
which antooishment and necessity have taken owthtST^iT* ™ 
of feeling is seared and dead for the time to 'all mm—i J Ll , **'"* 
The mind is sublimated to a disregard of whatercr Cm^J^!!!**'"** 
tempted to rush without provocation on its fate, purdy o(* 0/ 1"* *^ 
and aa the triumph of its paramount feeling, an exisBtmif^*?*''** 
temporary insanity. Courage is in many such otm^^ '" 
effort to shake off fear, a dett-rmination of the tmi|ai|jL* ****'**** 
on any object that may divert its present drrad. ^yTn*^ "^^ 
perfect hero but that he is a mere machine. J{c ■ SS " * 
disinterestedness, and beaten into courage. He ■ | m^^^ .'**** 
and romantic automaton. He has lost all regsfij W ^jL^****^ 
concern for others. His life, his limbs, hit ^ ^'^!^ ""^ 
obedient only to the word of command. «Set d«»J^ ^' *" 
death in the other, and he can look on death wdafc^LL?* **• ' 

^ *Sct biit a Scotsman on a hill, 

H Say such is royal George's will, 

^^^^ And there '■ the foe : 

I The 
■ loDii 
W for 



'*T»wJ 



His only thought is how to kiU 
Twa' at a blow.* — Buntj, 

They then go at it with bayonets fixed, eyei -tl^,. 

with heat and rage, like wild beasu oTZi .*■ 



ant 



lolling out with 

for blood, and from the madman to Mr. W«_ 

warrior' there is but one step.— The true ^iwodn^T^V^ilfy 

eamc way, but he does it of his own accord, j^ /Jj^fiB ^^ 

•eotiment. The service 00 which he ia bcfuad it?* **■ ' 

He is not a machine, but a free agent. He kic^ J** 

prompter. Not servile duty — ^1 



••i^ 




GUY FAUX 



THE SAME SUBJECT CONCLUDED 
Tb M.\ ■iiiii I {y^i^n 1$, tlu. 

Tbvs a kinght-CRatf S°^ ** alwam o^ aod fiiflowiiig one Ute fine 
idem of love lod pHaoiry » bii ovn Biad* viAoot oooe thinluog of 
famMclfbatMamaeldei^ctted tovictaeftad bo«wr,itoaeor the most 
CDmfaAe fictioM in tke whole vorid. Dos Qmxatt^ in the midKt of 
k* oosic iro|^» u ^ fiaeiK Knoas iie i eJu yc am it to be Ibood of this 
cfamctcr. Thr aocooft of the Cid, tbe hmam Sputiih hero, of 
vbidk Mr. Somhei hai pvco as adainUt irae^nMbtMm where 
MMue l j a wofd cooid be chiagc J or uwwwiaiH wi dumi injuring the 
fecce nd dear dmpfickj ofdw larigf style Ik has adopted, aboands 
wttli ■"" ■■' ■ ■ to the snae porposc. Hia taking back the lioo to iu 
den, hia bring^ig has &thiet *tbe herb that woukl curie him/ his 
eoemf's heady aad hb ■amer of reclaiming a recreant knight from 
his cowardice hf h tapng tbe rewards and diitinctiotts of courage apoo 
him, are lomc of chose that I remember is the most striking. Perhapt 
the reader oiay not bare the book bj him ; yet they are worth turning 
to^ both for the leocxmcnc aodlhci ifiiMiiia Thcfiru then in order 
is tbe ibOowing : — 

* At this time it came to pass that there waa strife between Count 
Doo Gomez tbe Lord of Gormazt sad Diego L^mez the fiuber of 
Rodrigo (the Cid) ; ud the Cooea iMaleed Diego aad gave faun a 
blow. Now Diego wu a nua ia jcan. aad his sueagdi had pisird 
from him, so that be coaU not take f iiysin i ,, aod he retired to his 
hone to dwell there ia sofitnde sad ksioc over bis dishonoor. And 
he took DO pleasare ia his Ibodt neither could he sleep by night, nor 
would be Bn up his eyes Irom tbe ground, not stir out of his house, 
nor commune with his friends* but toroed froai tbesk ia silence at if 
tbe bmih of his shame woaki taiat them. Rodrigo was yet but a 
youth, and the Count was a aag^iKy naa in arms, one who gare his 
Toice first in the Cortez, and was held to be tbe best in the war, aod 
so powertiii, that he had a thoocand friends aatoog the aonatains. 
Howbeit, all these things appcsml as oothing to Rodrigo, when be 
thoagbt of the wrong dooc to his tacher, the first which lud ever been 
(^ered to the blood of Layn Cairo. He asked aothing but jastice of 
Heaven, and of man he asked only a fus field ; aod his &tlicr seeing 
of how good bean be was, gave ban his sword and his blessing. The 
sword had been the Sword of Modarra to former times, aod when 
Rodrigo bdd its cross ia its haad* he dmi^tR within hiBMelf that his 
arm was Dot weaker than Mvdarra's. Aod be went out aad defied the 
Count and slew him, and smote off his head, and carried it home to his 

328 



GUY FAUX 



&ther. The oM man was sitting at table, the food lying before him 
uotasted, when Rodrigo returned, and pointing to the head which hung 
from the horse's collar, dropping btood, he bade him look up, for 
there was the herb which would restore to him his appetite ; the 
[•tongue, quoth he, which insulted ^ you, is no longer a tongue, and the 
'kaod which wronged you is no longer a liand. And the old man 
arose and embraced his son and placed him above him at the cable ; 
faying that he who brought home tliat head should be the head of the 
house of Layn Calvo/ — ChronUle of the Cid^ p. 4. 

The next is of Martin Pelaez, whom the Cid made of a notable 
coward a redoubtable hero : — 

*Here the history relates, that at this time Martin Pelaez the 
Asturian came with a convoy of laden beasts, carrying provision to the 
hosts of the Cid ; and as he passed near the town, the Moors sallied 
out in great numbers against him ; but he, though he had few with him, 
I defended the convoy right well, and did great hurt to the Moors, 
[.■laying many of them, and drove them into the town. This Martin 
Pelaez, who is here npoken of, did the Cid make a right good knight 
of a cowardt as yc bhatl hear. When the Cid tirst began to lay siege to 
the City of Valencia, this Martin Pelaez came unto him : he was a 
knight, a native of Santillance in Asturias, a hidalgo, great of body and 
strong of limb, a well-nude man and of goodly semblance, but withal a 
right coward at heart, which he had shown in many places where he 
I vas among feats of arms. And the Cid was sorry when he came 
uato him, though he would not let him perceive this ; for he knew he 
was not lit to be of his company. Howbeit, he thought that since he 
W8« come, he would make him brave whether he would or not. And 
when the Cid began 10 war upon the town, and sent parties against it 
twice and ihrice a day, as ye hare heard, for the Cid was always upon 
the alert, there was fighting and tourneying every day. One day it 
fell out that the Cid and his kinsmen and friends and vassals were 
engaged in a great encounter, and this Martin Pelaez was well armed ; 
and when he aaw that the Moors and Christians were at )t» he fled 
and betook himself to his lodging, and there hid himself till the Cid 
returned to dinner. And the Cid saw what Martin Pelaez did, and 
when he had conquered the Moors, he returned to his lodging to dinner. 
Now it wa& the custom of the Cid to eat at a high table, seated on 
his bench at the head. And Don Alvar Fannez and Pero Bermudez 
and other precious knights ate in another part, at high ubles full 
honourably, and none other knights whatsoever dared to uke their 
seats with them, unless they were such as deserved to be there ; and 
the others who were not so approved in arms ate upon ettradaj, at 
* It hat bcea tuggetted whether ibii pbrue ' inialted * it not too modem. 

3»9 



GUY FAUX 



tables with cushions. This was the order in the house of the Ctd, 
and every one knew the place where he was to sit at meat, and every 
one strove all lie could to gain the honour of sitting to eat at the table 
of Don Ahrar Fannez and his companions, by strenuously behaving 
himself in all feats of armit; and thus the honour of the Cid was 
advanced. This Martin Pelaez, thinking that none had seen his bad- 
ness, washed his hands in turn with the other knights, and would 
have taken his place among them. And the Cid went unto him and 
took him by the hand and said, You are not such a one as deserves to 
sit with these, for they are worth more than you or than me, but I 
will have you with me; and he seated him with himself at table. 
And he, for lack of understanding, thought that the Cid did this to 
honour him above all the others. On the morrow the Cid and fats 
company rode towards Valencia, and the Moors came out to the 
tourney ; and Martin Pelaez went out well armed, and was among the 
foremost who charged the Moors, and when he was in among them he 
ramed the reins, and went back to his lodging ; and the Cid cook 
heed to all that he did, and saw that though he bad done badly, he| 
had done better than tlie first day. And when the Cid had driv 
the Moors into the town, he returned to his lodging, and as he sate' 
down to meat, he took this Martin Pelaez by the hand, and seated him 
with himself, and bade him cat \vith him in the same dish, for he had 
deserved more that day than he had the first. And the knight gave 
heed to that saying, and was abashed ; howbeit, he did as the Cid 
commanded him : and after he had dined, he went to his lodging and 
began to think upon what the Cid had said unto him, and perceived that 
he had seen all the baseness which he had done ; and then he under- 
stood that for this cause he would not let him sit at board with the 
other knights who were precious in arras, but had seated him with 
himself, more to affront him than to do him honour, for there were 
other knights there better than he, and he did not show them tliat 
honour. Then resolved he in his heart to do better than he had done 
hitherto. Another day the Cid and his company and Martin Petaez 
rode towards Valencia, and the Moors came out to the tourney full 
resolutely, and Martin Pelaez was among the 6r8t, and charged them 
right boldly ; and he smote down and slew presently a good knight, 
and he lost there all the bad fear which he had had, and was that day 
one of the best knights there : and as long as the tourney lasted, there 
he remained fighting and staying and overthrowing the Moors, till 
they were driven within the gates, in such manner that the Moors 
marvelled at him, and asked where that Devil came from, for they had 
never seen him before. And the Cid was in a place where he could 
see all that was going on, and he ^ve good heed to him, and had 



GUY FAUX 

great pleaiure in beholding him, to see how well he had forgotten the 
great fear which he was wont to hare. And when the Moors were 
shut up within the tount the Cid and all his people returned to their 
lodging, and Martin Pelacz full leisurely and quietly went to his 
lodging also, like a good knight. And when it was the hour of eating, 
the Cid waited for Martin Pelaez, and when he came and they 
had washed, the Cid took htm by the hand, and said. My friend, you 
are not such a one as deserves to sit with me henceforth, but sit you 
here with Don Alvar Fannez, and with these other good knights, for 
the good feats which you have done this day have made you a com* 
panion for them ; and from the day forward he was placed in the 
company of the good/ — p. 199. 

* There was a lion in the house of the Cid, who had grown a large 
one, and strong, and was full nimble ; three men had the keeping of 
this lion, and they kept him in a den which was in a court-yard, high 
up in the palace ; and when they cleansed the court, they were wont 
to shut him up in his den, and afterwards to open the door that he 
might come out and eat : the Cid kept him for his pastime, that he 
mij;ht take pleasure with him when he was minded so to do. Now it 
was the custom of the Cid to dine every day with his company, and 
after he had dined, he was wont to sleep awhile upon his seat. And 
one day when he had dined, there came a man and told him that a 
great fleet was arrived in the port of Valencia, wherein there was a 
great power of the Moors, whom King Bucar had brought over, the 
sons of the Miramamolin of Morocco. And when the Cid heard 
this, his heart rejoiced and he was glad, for it was nigh three years 
since he had had a battle with the Moors. Incontinently he ordered 
a signal to be made, that all the honourable men who were in the city 
should assemble together. And when they were all assembled in the 
Alcazar, and his sons-in-law with them, the Cid told them the news, 
and took counsel with them in what manner they shotild go out against 
this great power of the Moors. And when they had taken counsel, 
the Cid went to sleep upon his seat, and the Infantes and the others 
sate playing at tables and chess. Now at this time the men who were 
keepers of the lion were cleaning out the court, and when they heard 
the cry that the Moors were coming, they opened the den, and came 
down into the palace where the Cid was, and left the door of the 
court open. And when the lion had ate hia meat, and saw that the 
door was open, he went out of the court and came down into the 
palace even into the hall where they all were : and when they who 
were there saw him, there was a great stir among them : but the Infantes 
of Carrion showed greater cowardice than all the rest. Ferrando 



GUY FAUX 



Gonzalez having no flhame, neither for the Cid nor for ihe others who 
were present, crept under the seat whereon the Cid was aleeptng, and 
in his haste he burst his mantle and hia doublet also at the shoulders. 
And Diego Gonz.-i1ez, the other, ran to a postern door, crying, I 
shall never see Carrion again ! This door opened upon a courtyard, 
where there was a wine-press, and he jumped out, and by reason of the 
great height could not keep his feet, but fell among the lees and 
defiled himself therewith. And all the others who were in the halt 
wrapt their cloaks around their arras, and stood round about the seat 
whereon the Cid was sleeping, that they might defend him. The 
noise which they made awakened the Cid, and he saw the lion coming 
towards him, and he lifted up his hand and said. What is this ? . . . 
and the liun hearing his voice stood still : and he rose up and took him 
by the mane, as if he had been a gentle mastiff, and led him back to 
the court where he was before, and ordered his keepers to look better 
to him for the time to come. And when he had done this, he 
returned to the hall and took his seat again ; and all they who beheld 
it were greatly astonished.' — p. 251. 

The presence of mind, the manly confidence, the faith in virtue, the 
lofty bearing and picturesque circunifitanccs in all these stories, are as 
fine as any thing can well be imagined. — The last of them puts me in 
mind, that that heroic little gentleman^ Mr. Kcan, who is a Cid too in 
his way, keeps a lion 'for his pastime, that he may take pleasure with 
him when he is minded so to do.' It is, to be sure, an American 
Hon, a pumah, a sort of a great dog. But still it shews the nature of 
the nun, and the spirited turn of his genius. Courage is the great 
secret of his success. His acting is, if not classical, heroical. To 
dare and to do are with him the same thing. ' Masterlcss passion 
sways him Co the mood of what it likes or loaths.' He may be some- 
times wrong, but he is decidedly wrong, and does not betray himself 
by paltry doubts and fears. He takes the lion by the mane. He 
gains all by hazarding all. He throws himself into the breach, and 
fights his way through as well as he can. He leaves all to his feelings, 
and goes where they lead him ; and he tinds his account in this 
method, and brings rich ventures home. 

In reading the foregoing accounts of the Spanish author, it teems 
that in those times killing was no murder. Slaughter was the order 
of the day. THl- blood of Moors and Christians flows through the 
page as so much water. The proverb uppermost in their minds wa«, 
that a man could die but once, and tlie inference seemed to be, the 
sooner the better. In these more secure and civilized times (individu- 
ally and as far as it depends upon ourselves) we are more chary of 
our lives. We are (ordinarily) placed out of the reach of * the shot 

33* 



GUY FAUX 



of accident and dan of chance'; and grow indolent, tender, and 
cfTcminare in our nouons and habits, books do not make men 
valiant, — not even the reading the chronicle of the Cid. The police 
look after all breaches of the peace and resorts of suspicious characters, 
80 that we need not buckle on our armour to go to the succour of di». 
tressed damsels, or to give battle to giants and enchanters. Instead of 
killing some fourteen before breakfast, like Hotspur, we are contented 
to read of these things in the newspapers, or to sec ihcm performed 
on the stage. We enjoy all the dramatic interest of such scenes, 
without the tragic results. Regnault de St. Jean Angely rode like a 
madman through the streets of Paris, when from the barricades he 
saw the Prussians advancing. Wc love, fight, and are slain by proxy 
— live over the adventures of a hundred heroes and die their deaths — 
and the next day are as well as ever, and ready to begin again. This 
is a gaining concern, and an improvement on the old-fashioned way of 
risking life and limb in good earnest, as a cure for ennui. It is a bad 
speculation to come to an untimely end by way of killing time. Now, 
like the heroic personages in Tom ThumB., we spread a white pocket- 
handkerchief to prepare our final catastrophe, and act the sentiment of 
death with all the impunity to be desired. Men, the more they cultivate 
their intellect, become more careful of their persons. They would 
like to think, to read, to dream on for ever, without being liable to 
any worldly annoyance. * Be mine to read eternal new romances, of 
Marivaux and Crehillon,' cries the insatiable adept in this school. 
Art is long, and iliey think it hard that life should be so short. 
Their existence has Iwen chiefly theatrical, ideal, -a tragedy rehearsed 
in print — why should it receive its denouement in their proper persons, 
in corpore vi/H- — In another point of view, sedentary, studious 
people live in a world of thought — in a world out of themselves — and 
are not very well prepared to bcuffle in this. They lose the sense of 
personal honour on cjuestions of more general interest, and are not 
inclined to individual sacrifices that can be of no service to the cause 
of letters. They do not see how any speculative truth can be proved 
by their being run through the body ; nor docs your giving them the 
lie alter the state of any one of the great leading questions in policy, 
morals, or criticism. Philosophers might claim the privileges of 
divines for many good reasons ; among these, according to Spenser, 
exemption from worldly care and peril was not the least in monkish 
lore : 

' From worWly care himself he did evloine, 
And greatly shunned manly exerciie: 
For every work he challenged essoine. 
Fur contemplation-sake. 

3SS 



CHARACTER OF MR CANNING 

Mental courage is the only courage I pretend to. I dare venture an 
opinion where lew «lte would, particularly if I think it right. I have 
retracted few of my positions. Whether this arises from obstinacy or 
strength, or inditfcrencc to the opinions of othersj I know not. In 
little else I hare the spirit of martyrdom : but I would give up any 
thing sooner than an abstract proposition. 



CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 

Tk€ Extmintr,'\ \Jm{j 1 1, 1834. 

Mr. Canking wa« the cleverest boy at Eton: he is, perhaps, the 
cleverest man in the House of Commons. It is, however, in the 
sense in which, according to Mr. Wordsworth, * the child is father 
to the man.' He has grown up entirely out of what he then was. 
He has merely ingrafted a set of Parliamentary phrases and the 
technicalities of debate on the themes and »chool-exercises he was set 
to compose when a boy. Nor has he ever escaped from the trammels 
imposed on youthful genius: he has never assumed a manly independ- 
ence of mind. He has been all his life in the habit of getting up a 
speech at the nod of a Minister, as he used to get up a thesis under 
the direction of his school-master. The malier is nothing ; the only 
(question is, how he shall express himself. The consequence has been 
as might be expected. Not being at liberty to chusc his own side of 
the question^ nor to look abroad into the world for original (but 
perhaps unwelcome) observations, nor to follow up a strict chain of 
reasoning into its unavoidable consequences, the whole force of his 
mind has been exhausted in an attention to the ornaments of style and 
to an agreeable and imposing selection of topics. It is his business 
and his inclination to embellish what is trite, to gloss over what is 
true, to vamp up some feeble sophism, to spread the colours of a 
meretricious fancy over the unexpected exposure of some dork 
intrigue, some glaring iniquity — 

*Likc as the sun-bumt Indians do array 
Their tawny bodies In their proudest plight 
With painted plumes in goodly order dight : 



As those same plumes, so seemed he vain and light, 

That by his gait might easily appear; 

For stiU he fared as danciug in delight, 

And in his hands a windy Ian did bear, 

That in the idle air he moved still here and there.' 

SP£NSEIL. 



334 



GHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 

His reasoning is a tissue of gliitering sophistry ; his laaguage is a 
cento of florid common-places. The iimooch monotODy of his style is 
iodced as much borrowed, is as little his own, as the courtly and often 
fulsome strain of his sentiments. He has no steady principles, no 
strong passions, nothing original, masculine, or striking in thought or 
expression. There is a feeble, diffuse, showy, Asiatic redundancy in 
all his speeches — something vapid, something second-hand in the 
whole cast of his mind. The light that proceeds from it gleams from 
ihe mouldering materials of corruption : the Bowers that are seen 
there, gay and Haunting, bloom over the grave of humanity !— Mr. 
Canning never, by any chance, reminds one of the [K>et or the philo- 
sopher, of the admirer of nature, or even the man of the world — be 
is a mere House-of-Commons man, or, since he was transferred there 
from College, appears never to have seen or thought of any other 
place. He may be said to have passed his life in making and learning 
CO make speeches. All other objects and pursuits seem to have been 
quite lost upon him. He has overlooked the ordinary objects of 
nature, the familiar interests of human life, as beneath his notice' 
There ts no allusion in any of his speeches to anything passing out of 
the House, or not to be found in the classics. Their tone is quite 
Parliamentary — his is the Dolphin edition of Nature. Not an image 
has struck his eye, not an incident has touched his heart, any farther 
than it could be got up for rhetorical and stage effect. This has an 
ill effect upon his speeches: — it gives them that shining and bloated 
appearance which is the result of the confined and heated atmosphere 
of the House. They have the look of exotics, of artificial, hot-house 
plants. Their glossiness, their luxuriance, and gorgeouaness of colour 
are greater than their strength or ttamina : they are forced, not lasting, 
nor will they bear transplanting from the rank and noxious soil in 
which they grow. Or rather, perhaps, they bear the same relation 
to eloquence that artiBcial flowers do to real ones—alike, yet not the 
same, without vital heat or the power of reproduction, printed, 
passionless, specious mockeries. They are, in fact, not the growth of 
truth, of nature, and feeling, but of state policy, of art, and praaice. 
To deny that Mr. Canning has arrived to a great perfection (perhaps 
the greatest) in the manufacture of these sort of riMim^ff-^/ur^^, elegant, 
but somewhat tarnished, imposing, but not solid, would, we think, 
■how a want of candour : to athrm that he has ever done anything 



* Mr. Cinning, when on i toor lo the Lake*, tlid Mr. WoHiworth thr hraoar 
of paying bim a viait. Tbe favour was duly apprectatcd, bat quite DQcjipected, 
Really, we do not know any one so little capable of apprecUting the Lyritai 
Baltadi. 

3ii 



CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 

more (in his serious attempu) wouldi we think, show an eqaaJ 
of taste and understanding.' 

The way in which Mr. Canning gets up the staple-commodity of 
his speeches appears to be this. He hears an obserratioa oa the 
excellence of the English Constitution, or on the dangers of Reform 
and the fickleness and headstrong humours of the people, dropped by 
some Member of the House, or he meets with it in an oldiDebate io 
the time of Sir Robert Walpole, or in Palcy's Moral and Potitkal 
Philosophy, which our accomplished scholar read, of course, as the 
esublished text-book at the Unirersity. He turns it in hii miod : by 
dint of memory and ingenuity he illustrates it by the application of 
tome well-known and well-authenticated simile at hand, such u ' the 
vnsel of the state,' ^ the torrent of popular fury,* ' the precipice of 
reform,' ' the thunderbolt of war/ * the smile of peace,' &c. He 
improves the hint by the help of a little play upon words and upon 
an idle fancy into an allegory, he hooks this on to a verbal inference, 
which takes you by surprise, equally from the noTelty of the premise* 
and the Batncxs of the conclusion, refers to a passage in Cicero in 
support of his argument, quotes his authority, relieves exhaosted 
attention by a sounding passage from Virgil, 'like the mom risen oo 
mid-noon,' and launches the whole freight of wisdom, wit, learning, 
and fancy, on the floor of St. Stephen's Chapel, where it floats and 
glitters amidst the mingled curiosity and admiration of both sidci of 
the House — 

•Scylla heard. 
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause.* 

Beneath the broad and gilded chandelier that throws its light upon 
* the nation's Great Diran,' Mr. Canning piles the lofty barangoe, 
high over-arched with metaphor, dazzling with epithets, sparkling 
with jests — cake it out of doors, or examine it by the light of common 
sense, and it is no more than a paltry string of sophisms of trite 
truisms, and sorry buffooneries. There is also a House-of-Commoos 
jargon as well as a scholastic pedantry in this gentleman's style of 
oratory, which is very displeasing to ail but professional ears. * The 
Honourable and Learned Gentleman,' and 'his Honourable and 
Gallant Friend,' are trolled over the tongue of the Honourable 
Speaker, *loud as .-i trumpet with a silver sound,* and fill up the 
pauses of the sense or the gaps in the logic with a degree of burlesque 
telf-complaccncy and pompous inanity. Mr. Canning speaks by rote ; 

' We once bcani it sslcl, that *Mr. Csanmg hid the most etegant mioH linee 
Virgil.* Bat we could not inent to this rcmirk, is we jutt then bippencd to 
thiok of CUudc Lomine. 



CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 

'and if the words he utters become the mouth and round a period well^ 
he cares littJe how cheaply he comes by them, or how dear they cost 
the country ! Such mechanic helps to style and technical flourishes 
and trappings of upstart self-importance are, howcreri unworthy of the 
meanest underling of office. 

There is^ notwithstanding, a facility, a brilliancy* and an elegance 
io Mr. Canning's general style, always graceful, never abrupt, never 
meagre, never dry, copious without confusion, dignified without 
atifrneaa, perspicuous yet remote from common life, that must excite 
lorprise in an extempore spealter. Mr. Canning, we apprehend, is no/ 
■n txtempore speaker. He only makes set speeches on set occasions. 
He indeed books them in as answers to some one that has gone before 
him in the debate, by taking up and commenting on a single sentence 
or so, but he immediately recurs to some old and favourite topic, 
launches into the middle of the stream, or mounts upon the high horst^ 
and rides it to the end of the chajHer. He never (that we are aware 
of) grappled with a powerful antagonist, overthrew him on the spot, 
or contested the point with him foot to foot. Mr. Canning's replies 
are evruionj. He indeed made a capital and very deservedly-admired 
reply to Sir John Coxe Hippesley ; but Sir John had given notice of 
all his motions a month beforehand, and Mr. Canning had only to lie 
in ambush for him with a whole magazine of facta, arguments, allitera- 
tions, quotations, jests, and squibs, prepared ready to explode and 
blow him up into the air in an instant. In this manner he contrives 
to slip into the debate and speak to the question, as if he bad lately 
entered the House and heard the arguments on the other side stated 
for the first lime in his life. He has conned his speeches over for a 
week or a month previously, but he gives these premeditated edusions 
the effect of witty impromptus — the spontaneous ebullitions of the 
laughter or indignation or lofty enthusiasm of the moment. His 
manner tells this, it is that of a person trying to recollect a speech, 
and reciting it from beginning to end with studied gesture, and in an 
emphatic but monotonous and somewhat affected tone of voice, rather 
than of a person uttering words and thoughts that have occurred to 
him for the lirst time, and hurried away by an involuntary impulse, 
speaking with more or less hesitation, faster or slower, and with more 
or less passion, according as the occasion requires. 

Mr. Canning is a conventiomd S{>eaker ; he is an of^'tona! politician. 
He has a ready and splendid assortment of arguments upon all ordinary 
questions : he takes that side or view of a question that is dictated by 
his vanity, his interest, or his habits, and endeavours to make the best 
he can of it. Truth, liberty, justice, humanity, war or peace, civiliza- 
tion or barbarism, arc tilings of little consequence, except for him to 

VOL. XI. : Y 337 



CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 

make ipe«ches upon them. He thiatu ^the worse the better retson, 
if he can onlv make it appear so to othen ; asd in the attempt lo 
coofbuod ana mislead, he if greatly aadstcd by really perceiriag no 
difference himself. It is cot what a thing la, but what he can say 
about it, that is ever uppermost in his mind ; and why should he be 
squeamish or hare any particular choice, since his words are all 
equally fine, and delivered with equal volubility of tongue ! Hit 
balanced periods are the scale * that makes these odds all even.' Our 
Orator does not coniiDe himself to any one view of a subject. He 
does not blind himself by any dull prejudice : he does not tte himself 
down to any pedantic rules or abstraa principle. He does not liiten 
implicitly to common sense, nor does he follow the indepcndcot 
dictates of his own judgment. No, he picks and chuses among ail 
these, as best niits his purpose. He plucks out the grey hairs of 
a Question, and then again the black. He shifts his position ; it is a 
rimMmd-titsj9t£m with him. He raouuts sometimes behind prejudice, 
and KHnctiroes behind reason. He is now with the wise, and then 
again with the vulgar. He drivels, or he raves. He is now wedded 
to antiquity, anon there is no innovation too startling for him. At one 
time he is literal, at another visionary and romantic. At one dmc 
the honour of the country sways him, at another its interest. Ooe 
moment he is all for libert)*, and the next for slavery. First we are 
to hold the balance of Europe, and to dictate and^domineer over the 
whole world ; and then wt ue to creep into our'^ells and draw in 
oar horns ; one moment resembling Don Quixote, and the next 
playing the part of Sancho Panza ! And why not ? All these are 
tones, are out used in the game of politics are colours in the change- 
■Ue coat of party, are dilemmas in casuistry, are pretexts in diplomacy ; 
and Mr. Canning has them all at his fingers' ends. What is there 
then to prevent his using any of them as he pleases ? Nothing in the 
worid bat fceiing or principle ; and as Mr. Canning is not withheld 
by tbete from nmning his heedless career, the application of his 
ingenmty and eloquence in all such cases is per^ctly arbitary, * quite 
^^ftwiy as Mr. Liston expresses it. A wise man would have some 
•ettkd opinion, a good man would wish well to some cause, a modett 
man wotud be afraid to act without feeling sure of his groood, or to 
show an utter disregard of right or wrong. Mr. Canning has the 
luckless ambition to jday o^ the tricks of a political rope-dancer, and 
he chuses to do it on the nerves of hnmanicy ! He has called out 
for war during thirty years without ceasing, * like importunate Guinea 
fowls, one note day and night ; ' be has made the House and the 
country ring with his vain clamour, and now for the first time he is 
silent, 'quite chopfallen.* Like Bottom in the play, *he aggravates 

J}8 



CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 



his Toice like a sucking-dove ; ' ' he roan you an 'twere any nightin- 
gale ! ' After the failure of Buonaparte's Russian expedition, Mr. 
Canning exclaimed exuttingly, and with a daring enthusiasm that 
■eemed to come from the heart, that ^ he rejoiced that barbarism had 
been the first Co resist invasion, since it showed that the love of 
national independence waA an instinctive principle in every country, 
superior even to the love of liberty.* This plea served its turn at the 
time, and we heard no more of it last year when the French invaded 
Spain. In the war to restore Ferdinand, Mr. Canning echoed with 
lungs of brass the roar of ' the universal Spanish nation,' and the words 
Liberty and Humanity hung like music on his tongue ; but when the 
feeble Monarch was restored, and trod upon the necks of chose who 
had restored him, and threw down the mock-scaffold of the Consti- 
tution that had raised him once more to the throne, we heard no 
more of 'the universal Spanish nation,* of Liberty and Humanity. 
When the speeches of Mr. Canning and the Manifestos of his friends 
had raised the power of France to a gigantic height that hung like a 
precipice over our heads, we were to go on, and fight out the battle 
of liberty and independence, though * we buried ourselves under the 
ruins of the civilized world.' When a monstrous claim that threatens 
the liberty and existence of the civilized world is openly set up and 
acted upon, and a word from Mr. Canning would arrest its progress 
in the direction in which it is moving with obscene, ghastly, blood- 
stained strides, he courteously and with great condescension reminds 
his hearers of * the inimiublc satire of Cervantes,' that there is a 
proverbial expression borrowed from it, and that the epithet Quixotic 
would be eminently applicable to the conduct of Great Britain if she 
interfered in the affairs of the continent at the present juncture. And 
yet there are persons who persist in believing that Mr. Canning is 
any thing more than a pivot on whose oily hinges state policy turns 
easily at this moment, unheard, unseen, and that he has views and 
feelings of his own that are a pledge for his integrity. If all this were 
fickleness, caprice, forgetful ness, accident, folly, it would be well or 
would not much signify ; wc should stand a chance of sometimes 
being right, sometimes wrong ; or if the ostensible motives were tlie 
real ones, they would balance one another. At one time we should 
be giving a lift to liberty, at another we should be advancing our own 
interests : now we should be generous to others, then we should be 
just to ourselves, but always wc should be doing something or other 
lit to be done and to be named, and acting up to one or other of Mr. 
Canning's fine pleas of religion, morality, or social order. Is that the 
case I Nothing was said for twenty years about the restoration of 
the Bourbons as the objca of the war. Who doubu it now ? This 

339 



CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 



cause skulked behind the throoe, and was not let out io any of Mr. 
Canning's speeches. The cloven foot was concealed by so much 
Baunting oratory, by so matiy different icings and piebald patch-work 
liveries of ruinous policy or perlidious principle, as not to be ^spected. 
This is what makes such persons as Mr. Canning dangerous. Cleret 
men arc the tools with which bad men work. The march of sophistry 
is devious : the march of power is one. Its means, its tools, its 
pretexts are various, and borrowed like the hues uf the camelioa from 
any object that happens to be at hand : its object is ever the same, 
and deadly as the serpent's fang. It moves on to its eixi with crested 
majesty, erect, silent, with eyes sunk and fixed, undiverted by fear, 
unabashed by shame, and puny orators and patriot mountebanks play 
tricks before it to amuse the crowd, till it crushes the world in its 
monstrous folds. There is one word about which nothing has been 
said all this while in accounting for Mr. Canning's versatility of 
mind and vast resources in reasoning — it is the word. Legitimacy, It 
is the key with which you * pluck out the heart of his mystery/ It 
is the touchstone by which all his other elo<^uence ia to be tried, and 
made good or found wanting. It is the casting-weight in the scale of 
sound |>olicy, or that makes humanity and liberty kick the beam. It 
is the secret of the Ayes and Noes : it accounts for the Majorities 
and Minorities. It weighs down all other considerations, hides all 
flaws, makes up for all deficiencies, removes all obstacles, is the crown 
of success, and makes defeat glorious. It has all the power of the 
Crown on its side, and all the madness of the people. All Mr. 
Canning's speeches are but so many different prriphrajes for this one 
woid—Lrgitimacy. It is the foundation of his magnanimity and the 
source of his pusillanimity. It is the watch-word equally of his 
oratory or his silence. It is the principle of his interference and of 
his forbearance. It makes him move forward, or retreat, or stand 
still. With this word rounded closely in his ear, and with fifty 
evasions for it in his mouth, he advances boldly to 'the deliverance 
of mankind ' — into the hands of legitimate kings, but can do nothing 
to deliver them out of their power. When the liberty and independ- 
ence of mankind can be construed to mean the cause of kings and the 
doctrine of divine right, Mr. Canning is a virago on the side of 
humanity — when they mean the cause of the people and the reducing 
of arbitrary power within the limits of constitutional law, his patriotism 
and humanity f^ag, and he is 

' Of his port as meek as is a mud ! ^ 

This word makes his tropes and figures expand and blaze out like 

phosphorus, or * freezes his spirits up like fish in a pond.' It smites 

340 



CHARACTER OF MR, CANNING 



with its pctrtfic mace, it deadens with its torpedo touchi the Minister, 
the Parliament, the people, and makes this vast, free, enlightened, 
and enterprisiDg country a body without a soul, an inert mass, tike 
the hulks of our men of war, which Mr. Canning saw acd described 
BO well at Plymouth. It is the same word, that aoDounciag the pro- 
fanation of * the golden round tfiut binds the hollow temples of a king ' 
by unhallowed hands, would fill their sails, and hurl their thunders on 
rebel shores. It denounces war, it whispers peace. It ia echoed by 
the groans of the nations, is sanctiBed by their blood, bought with 
their treasure. It is tliis that fdla the time-rent towers of the Inquisi- 
tion with tears and piercing cries ; and owing to this, Maazotti shrieks 
in Italian dungeons, while Mr. Canning soothes the House of 
Commons with the soft accents of liberty and peace ! In fine, 
Mr. Canning's success as an orator, and the sp.-ice he occupies in the 
public mind, are strong indications o( the Genius of the Age, in 
which words have obtained a mastery over things, 'and to call evil 
good and good evil,' is thought the mark of a superior and happy 
spirit. An accomplished statesman in our day is one who extols the 
Constitution and violates it— who talks about religion and social 
order, and means Blavery and superstition. The Whigs are always 
remindiag the reigning family of the prmcipJes that raised th^m to the 
throne — the Tones labour as hard to substitute those that wi// keep 
them there. There is a dilemma here, which is not easily got over ; 
and to solve the ditficulty and reconcile the contradiction, was the 
great problem of the late King's reign. The doubtful lubricity of 
Mr. Canning's style was one of the rollers by which the transition 
was effected, and Legitimacy shown to be a middle term between 
Sivine right and the choice of the people^ compatible with both, and 
convertible into either, at the discretion of the Crown, or pleasure of 
the speaker. Mr. Canning docs not disgrace his pretensions on other 
questions. He is a sophist by profession, a palliator of every powerfid 
and prolitable abuse. His shumiog, tritling speeches on Reform are 
well-known. He sometimes adds the petulance of the schoolboy to 
his stock of worn-out invention ; though his unfeeling taunt on the 

* revered and ruptured Ogden,' met with a reception which will make 
him cautious how he tampers again with human infirmity and individual 
suffering, as the subject of ribald jests and profligate alliteration. 

The thing in which Mr. Canning excels most is wit ; and his wit 
is confined to parody. The Rejected Addretses have been much and 
deservedly admired ; but we do not think the parodies in them, how- 
ever ingenious or ludicrous, are to be compared with those in the 

* Poetry of the Anti-Ja£obiny and some of the very best of these are 
by Mr. Canning. Among others arc, we believe, the German Play^ 

3+» 




CHARACTER OF MR. CANNING 

and the imitation of Mr, Southey's Saffihut. Mudi as we admire, 
we do not wonder at Mr. Canning's exccllcfice in this departmcnL 
Real, original wit, he has none ; for that implies senie and feeUng, 
and an insight into the real diiferrnccB of things ; but from a want of 
Eympathy with anything but forms and commm-piacctf he can easily let 
down the sense of others so as to make nwuente of it. He has no 
enthusiasm or sensibility to make him overlook the meanoeM of a 
subject, or a little irregularity in the treatment of it, from the interest 
it excites : to a mind tike his, the serious and atfecting is a kind of 
natural burlesque. It is a matter of course for htm to be struck with 
the absurdity of the romantic or singular in any way, to whom every 
thing out of the beaten track is absurd ; and * to turn what is serioos 
into farce ' by transferring the same expressioni to perfectly indifferciit 
and therefore contemptible subjects. To make any description or 
sentiment ludicrous, it is only necessary to take away all feeling from 
it: the ludicrous is ready-made to Mr. Canning's hands. The poetry, 
the heart-felt interest of every thing escapes through bis appreheonon, 
like a snake out of its skin, and leaves the slough of parody behind iu 
Any thing more light or worthleu cannot well be imagined.^ 

' Wc tuve Slid notlunc here of tbe impiety of Mr. CUnning*s parortiei, tltos(li 
■ (rest dnl hi» beca uid of the impiety of Mr. Hooe'i, which unfortututcljr 
hippeD to be oo the other •i'lc of ihc ({oeation. It i> true that mt mam m^ atal t 
JUru iMmtr tJkam tmeirr tarn loot ovtr m htAgt, Mr. Hone ii not I Cibinet Minictef , 
sad therefore ti not lUowcd to tike libertin with tbe Litargy. It is to so porpoK 
to nr^e that Mr. Hone ia a very good-oaturrd mjo, that be ii mild and iooffientive 
in hit minnen, that he it utterly void of fuilCf with a frcat deal of sincere piety, 
ind that hia greateit vice il that be is food of a joke, and given to bbck-lecter 
reading. The aniwer ij — * But he hat written piro^ics' — an>} it is to oo parpOK 
to reply — So hii Mr. Caaning ! He t>a Cabinet Minifter,aDd therefore iocapable 
of any thing ral^r or profane. One wonld think that the triumphaot ^jueatioD 
put by Mr. Hnoe to hit Jury, * Whether Mr. Jekyll'i Parody on Black-eyed Saaao 
was meant to ridicule Sir Willam Curtis or the Ballad of Blsck>eyed Satan? * 
would have put an end forever to the cant oo this nibject,tf rcaaon coald pat an end 
to cant on any nb}ect. The fate of different men ia nriout. Mr, Canning, who 
hat ill bit life been Jefeoding the mott odtow and miichicvout men and meaiuret, 
patara, on that very accoont, for a moat amiibk cbaneter and an accomplithed 
f tatctman. Mr. Hone, who defended himaelf afabut a charge of blatphcmy for a 
parody on the Ciwi Str^iee of which Mr, Canning had fnratthed him with 
a precedent, rote from tbe aluck by tbe force of good-oaCnre, and by that ooblc 
tpirit of freedom and honctty in which to be anjustly accoicd n to be toperior to 
all fcar« and to apeak truth ia to be cloqveat — Init that he did not laffer himteU Co 
be crvthcd to atoms, and made a wDling tacrifice to the prejudice, talent, and 
authority arrayed apinat him, it a miltaDce to the opisiooi of the world and the 
insolcQCe of power, that can never be overlooked or forgivea. 
* A wit 'a a feather, and a chief *■ a rod : 
An boaeat man ** the noblevt work of God I* 



54* 




Vetun Grey is dedicated to the Best aad Greatest ofmcD, as if the 
Illustrious Person who will take this compliment to himaclf approTed 
of the sentiments contained in it. Are ushers odious to the Best and 
Greatest of men ? Does he hate the great mass of his subjects, and 
■corn all those beyond Temple-bar ? Is he King only of the Dandies, 
aod Monarch of the West? We scarcely bcliere it. This volume 
with its irapcrtincDl dedication is no more expressiTe of die sentiments 
of his heart than the jiajfrian CaUcbijmy dedicated in like mannert 
would be charactcrislic of the principles of his reign. Oh ! Mr. 
Grey, you should have been more humble — you should have inscribed 
your work to the bcst-<lres«cd Man in his Majesty's dominions — or to 
Jack Ketch. 

It was formerly understood to be the business of literature to 
enlarge the bounds of knowledge and feeling; to direct the mind's 
eye beyond the present moment and the present object ; to plunge us 
ID the world of^ romance, to connect different languages, manners, 
times together ; to wean us from the grossoess of sense, the illusions of 
■elf-love ; — by the aid of imagination, to place us in the situations of 
others and enable us to feel an interest in all that strikes them ; and 
to make books the faithful witnesses and interpreters of nature and the 
human heart. Of late, instead of this liberal aiul useful tendency, it 
has taken a narrower and more superficial tone. AU that we learn 
from it is the servility, egotism, and upstart pretensions of the writers. 
Instead of transporting you to faery-land or into the midtUe ages, you 
take a turn down Bond Street or go through the mazes of the dance 
at Almack's. You have no new inlet to thought or feeling opened to 
you; but the passing object, the topic of the day (however insipid or 
repulsive) is served up to you with a self-sufficient air, as if you had 
not already had enough of it. You dip into an Essay or a Novel, 
and may fancy yourself reading a collection of quack or fashionable 
advertisements : — Macassar Oil, Eau de Cologne, Hock and Seltzer 
Water, Otto of Roses, Pomade Divine glance through the page in 
inextricable confusion, and make your head giddy. Far from 
extending your sympathieti, they are narrowed to a single poin% the 
admiration of the folly, caprice, insolence, and affectation of a certain 
class; — so that with the exception of people who ride in their 
carriages, you are taught to look down upon the rest of the species 
with indinerence, abhorrence, or contempt. A school-master in a 
Uack coat is a monster — a tradesman and his wife who eat cold 




THE DANDY SCHOOL 

RiattoD and pickled cabbage are vrctcbct to be himtcd out of society. 
That i* the rod and moral of it : it ia pan aad parcel of a ffitem. 
The Dantfy Schooi give the finUhiog touch to the pnodplea of 
patenui goTcmmenc. FirM come* the politicaJ fycophant, aod makei 
the people over to their rulen as a pfoperty in p er p e tu ity ; but lAwn 
they are to be haodlcd tenderly, and need Dot complaio, sioce the 
•orereign it the father of bit ]<eopIe, aod we are to be all one family 
of loTc* So My* the jltutrian CaUthiim, Then comet the literary 
vycophant to finish what the other had begun ; and the poor fooU oif 
people having been canght in the trap of plausible profeinone, be 
takei off the mask oi paternity y trratt thrm as ofaditfercDt species 
instead of mcmbcri of the lame family, loads them with obloquy and 
insult, and laughs at the very idea of any fellow feeling «-ith or con- 
aideratioQ towards them, as the height of bod taste, weakness, and 
vulgarity. So say Mr. Theodore Hook and the author of ytvian 
Grey. So layt not Sir Walter, liver while you live, go to a man 
of genius in preference to a dunce ; for let hit prejudices or his party 
be what they may, there is still a saving grace about htm, for he 
htmself has something cite to trust to besides his subserviency to 
greatneu to raise him from insignificance. He takes you and places 
you in a cotuge or a cavrm, and makes you feel the deepest interest 
in it, for you feel all that iu inmates feel. The DanHy SehwAx^W you 
all that a dandy would feel in such circumstances, viz. that he was not 
in a drawing-room or at Long's. Or if he docs forfeit his character 
for a moment, he at most bnogs himself to patronise humanity, con- 
descends to the accidents of common life, touches the pathetic with 
hit pen as if it were with a pair of tongs, and while he just deigns to 
notice the existence or endure the infirmities of his fellow-creatures, 
indemnifies hit vanity by snatching a conscious glance at his own 
person and perfections. Whatever is going on, he himself is the hero 
of the scene; the distress f however excruciating) derives its chief 
claim to attention firom the singular circumstance of his being present; 
and he manages the whole like a piece of private theatricals with an air 
of the most absolute nonchalance and decorum. The Whole Duty of 
Man is turned into a butt and bye-word, or like Mr. Martin's bill for 
humanity to animals, is a pure voluntary, a caprice of effeminate 
sensibility : the great business of life is a kind of masquerade or 
melo-drame got up for effect and by particular desire of the Great. 
We toon grow tired of nature so treated, and arc glad to turn to the 
follies and fojijwrics of high life, into which the writer enters with 
more relish, and where he finds himself more at home. So Mr. 
Crokcr (in his place in the House of Commons] does not know 
where Bloomsbury Square is : thus affecting to level all the houses in 
S44 



THE DANDY SCHOOL 

tiic metropolis tbat are not at the court-cod, and learing them 
tcnaDilesa by a paltry sneer, as tfa plague had visited them. It is no 
wonder that his proteges and understrappers oat of doors should echo 
this official impertinence — draw the line still closer between the East 
aod West-end — arrest a stray sentiment at the corner of a street, 
relegate elegance to a raahionablc square — annihilate all other enjoy- 
ments, all other pretensions but those of their employer »— reduce the 
bulk of mankind to a cypher, and make all but a few pampered 
farouritcs of fortune dissatisfied with themselves and contemptible to 
one another. The reader's mind is so varnished over with anectatioa 
tbat not an avenue to truth or feeling is left opeor and it is stilled for 
want of breath. Send these people across the Channel who make 
Bttch fuss about the East and West-end, and do one can iiod out the 
difference. 1 The English are not a nation of dandies ; nor can John 
Bull afford (whatever the panders to fashion and admirers of courtly 
graces may say to the contrary) to rest all his pretensions upon that. 
He must descend to a broader and more manly level to keep his 
grouod at all. Those who would persuade him to buitd up his 
fame on froggcd coats or on the embellishments of a snuif-box, he 
should scatter with one loud roar of indignation and trample into 
the earth like grasshoppers, as making not only a beast but an aw 
of him. 

A writer of this accomplished stajnp, comes forward to teU yoU| 
not how his hero feels on any occasion, fur he is above that, but how 
he was dressed, and makes him a mere lay-figure of fashion with a 
few pert, current phrases in his mouth. The Sir Sedlcy Clarendels 
and Meadowses of a former age are become the real line gentlemen of 
this. Then he gives you the address of his heroine's milliner, lest 
any shocking surmise should arise in your mind of the possibility of 
her dealing with a person of less approved taste, and also informs you 
that the quality eat fish with silver forks. This is all he knows about 
the matter : is this all they feel ? The fact is new to him : it is old 
to them. It ii so new to him and he itf so delighted with it, that 
provided a few select persoos eat fish with silver forks, he considers it 
a circumstance of no consequence if a whole country surres: but 

* It it amuking to ice ao English womao tn the itrcrti of Parii lookinj; lilce a 
dowdy, and icarcely iblf to pui one foot before inother for very awkwantneu ind 
flhame, who bat a week before the left home hii<l perbipa trsmplect on i Hrcts 
brou|[ht home to her, in * tit of uncontrollable rage, thrown a cap into the lire, and 
kicked her milliner down itaira for bringing her such uofaibionable trumpery. 
One would icjrcely believe that a mere change of place would make auen an 
alteration in behaviour. When wc aee our ci>uob^--women »o tinpleauntly 
fitoated, we ore natrirally both aihamed and loiry for tbem i but, ai in thii cue, 
we pity many of them more than thry dcacrve, 

345 



THE DANDY SCHOOL 



these privileged periona are not surely thinking all the time and every 
day of their lives of that which Mr. Theodore Hook, has never 
forgotten since he firtt witnessed it, viz. that they eat their Jish with a 
ii/ver fori. What then are ihcy thinking of in iheir intervals of 
leisure — what arc their feeling* that 'o/e can be supposed to know 
nothing of ? Will Mr. Theodore Hook, who is * comforted with 
their bright radiance, though not in their sphere,* condescend to give 
us a glimpse of these, that we may admire their real elegance and 
relinement as much as he does a froggcd coat or silver fork ? It is 
cruel in him not to do so. 'The rourt, as well as we, may chide 
him for it.* He once criticised a city feast with great minuteocH 
and bitterness, in which (as it appears) the side-board is ill-arranged, 
the footman makes a blunder, the cook has sent up a dish too little or 
too highly seasoned. Something is wanting, as Mr. Hook insinuates 
is necessarily the case whenever people in the neighbourhood of 
Russell square give dinners. But that something is not the manners 
or conversation of gentlemen — this never enters his head — but some- 
thing that the butler, the cook or the valet of people of fashion could 
have remedied quite as well (to say the least) as their masters. It is 
here the cloven-foot, the under-bred tone, the undue admiration of 
external circumstances breaks out and betrays the writer. Mr. Hook 
has a fellow-feeling with low life or rather with vulgarity aping 
gentility, but he has never got beyond the outside of what he calls 
good socuty. He can lay the cloth or play the buifoon after dinner — 
but that is the utmost he can pretend to. We have in Sayings and 
Jioing-i and in f^vian Grey abundance of Lady Marys and Lady 
Dorothys, but they are titles without characters, or the blank it filled 
up with the most trite impertinence. So a young linen-draper or 
attorney 's-clerk from the country, who had gained a thirty-thousand 
pound prize in the lottery and wished to set up for a fine gentleman, 
might learn from these Novels what hotel to put up at, what watering 
place to go to, what hatter, hosier, tailor, shoemaker, frxseur to 
employ, what part of the town he should be seen in, what theatre he 
might frequent ; but how to behave, speak, look, feel and think in his 
new and more aspiring character he would not find the most distant 
bint in the gross caricatures or flimsy sketches of the most mechanical 
and shallow of all schools. It is really as if, in lieu of our royal and 
fashionable * Society of Authors,' a deputation of tailors, cooks, 
lacqueys, had taken possession of Parnassus, and had appointed some 
Abigail out of place perpetual Secretary. The Congrevcs,Wychcrley8, 
and Vanbnighs of former days gave us some taste of gentility and 
courtly refinement in their plays : enchanted us with their MUlamanti^ 
or made us bow with respect to their LordTotvnleyt. Ii would seem 
S46 



THE DANDY SCHOOL 



that the race of these is over, or that our modem scribes have not had 
access to them on a proper footing — that is, not for their talents or 
coDTersatioD, but as mountebanks or political drudges. 

At first it appears strange that persons of so low a station in life 
should be seized with such a rage to inveigh against themselves, and 
make us despise all but a few arrogant people, who pay them ill for 
what they do. But this is the natural process of servility, and wc see 
all valets and hangers-on of the Great do the same thing. The 
powdered footman looks down on the rabble that dog his master's 
coach as beneath his notice. He feels the one little above him, and 
the other (by coosequeoce) infinitely below him. Authors at present 
would be thought gentlemen, as gentlemen have a fancy to turn 
authors. The first thing a dandy tcrihbicr does is to let us know he 
is dressed in the height of the fashion (otherwise we might imagine 
him some mittcrable garrctteer, distinguished only by his poverty and 
learning) — and the next thing he does is to make a supercilious 
allusion to some one who is not so well dressed as himself. He then 
proceeds to give us a sparkling account of his Champagne and of his 
box at the Opera. A newspaper hack of this description also takes 
care to inform ua that the people at the Opera in general, tlie 
Mr. Smiths and the Mr. Browns, arc not good enough for him, and 
that he shall wait to begin his critical lucubrations, till the stars of 
fashion meet there in crowds and constellations 1 At present, it should 
seem that a seat on Parnassus conveys a tide to a box at the Opera, 
and that Helicon no longer runs water but champagne. Literature, so 
far from supplying us with intellectual resources to counterbalance 
immediate privations, is made an instrument to add to our impatience 
and irritability under them, and to nourish our feverish, childish 
admiration of external show and grandeur. This rage for fashion 
and for fashionable writing seems becoming universal, and some stop 
must be put to it, unless it cures itself by its own excessive folly and 
insipidity. 

It is well that the Editor of the John Hull wrote the Sayingt and 
Doing!. It solves the problem with how small a quantity of wit a 
person witliout character or principle may set up for a political 
mouthpiece. Nothing but the dullness of the one could account for 
the impudence and the effect of the other. No one who could write 
a line of wit or sense could bring himself from any inducement to 
repeat the same nickname, the same state jest, for weeks and months 
together. If the Editor of the John Bull had any resources in him- 
self beyond the most vulgar slang and hackneyed abuse, if he had any 
sense of shame at resorting to the same wretched pun or more wretched 
calumny, week after week, as he is paid for it, he would be unfit for 

347 



ACTORS AND THE PUBLIC 

his tuk : he would no longer be the complete and unequiTocaJ organ 
of the dulncss, prejudices, malice, and calious insensibility of his party. 
No argument tells with a minister of State like calling a man a Jacobin 
and a Reformer for the fortieth time : the sleek, Divine chuckles at a 
dirty allusion for the fortieth time with unabated glee. Mr. Hook, 
among wits, might be called the parson*! nose : or perhape the title of 
Mr. Vivacity Dull would suit him as well. What a dearth of 
invention, what a want of intcrefit, what a fuss about nothing, what a 
dreary monotony, what a pert siipshp jargon runs through the whole 
sericv of the author's talcs ! But what a persevering, unabashed 
confidence, what a broad -shouldered self-complacency, what robust 
health, what unrelenting nerves he must possess to inflict them on his 
readers! Not one ray, not one line — but all the refuse of the 
Green-roomt the locomotions of a booth at a fair, the humours of a 
Margate hoy, the grimace of a jack-pudding, the sentimentalities and 
hashed-up scandal of a lady's maid, the noise and hurry of a chaise 
and four, the ennui and vacancy of a return post-chaitte ! The smart 
improv'uatori turns out the moat wearisome of interminable writers. At 
a moment's warning he can supply something that is worth nothing, 
and in ten tiroes the space he can spin out ten times the quantity 
of ihc same poor trash. Would the public read Sayings and Doings l 
Would Mr. Colburn print them? No, but they arc known to be the 
work of the Editor of the John Bullj of that great and anonymous 
abstract of wit, taste, and patriotism, who, like a Ministerial trull, 
calls after you in the street, dubs Mr. Waithman Lord Waithman, 
cries Humhug whenever humanity is mentioned ; invades the peace of 
private Ufe, out of regard to religion and social order; cuts a throat 
out of good nature, and laughs at it; and claps his Majesty familiarly 
on the shoulder, as the best of Kings ! Do you wonder at the face, 
the gravity, the impenetrable assurance required to do all this, and to 
do it not once, but once a-wcek ? Read Sayings and Doings^ and the 
wonder ceases ; you sec it is because he can do nothing else ! He 
will feel obliged to us for this character: his patrons were beginning 
to forget his qualifications. 



ACTORS AND THE PUBLIC 

Tie Snmimer.] [Htre* l6, 1 8x8. 

We once happened to be present, and indeed to assist to the follow- 
ing conversation between a young lady and an elderly gentleman 
pretty much of our own standing in such matters. *I tx^lieve, papa. 



ACTORS AND THE PUBLIC 

gnmd-papa did not think so highly of Mr. Garrick aa nioft people 
did ^ ' * Why, my dear, your grand-papa was not one of those who 
liked to differ very openly with the world ; but he had an opinion 
of his own, which he imparted only to a few particular friends. He 
really rhooght Mr. Garrick was a quack, a better sort of Barthelemy- 
fair actor. He used to say (for he was a man that knew the world) 
*thac the real secret of Mr. Garrick's succchs was, that his friend 
Bate Dudley had puffed him into notice, as he afterwards did the 
Prince of Wales.* We on this observed, in our individual capacity, 
that at least the dispenser of popularity had been more successful in 
the one case than in the other. * I believe, papa, you yourself were 
never a great admirer of Mrs. Siddons ? * * Why no, my dear, one 
does not like to say those things, but she always appeared to me 
one of the great impositions on the world. There was nothing in 
her, a mere tragedy-queen.* — *Pray, ma'am, have you read Sir 
Walter's last novel ? * — * Why no, I really cannot say I have. 1 
have tried to get through one or two, but 1 find them so dry I liave 
given up the attempt. I like "Sayings and Doings'* much better. 
Pray, sir, can you tell me the name of the author ? ' * Mr. Theodore 
Hook.* — * Blesa me, what a pretty name ; I wish papa would invite 
him to dinner.' — Here we have the genealogy of modern taste. 
'Fore gad, they were all in a story — three generations in succession 
thinking nothing of Garrick, Mrs. Siddons, and the author of 
• Wavcrley/ and preferring Mr. Theodore Hook before the quint- 
essence or truth and nature. And such is the opinion of nine-ienthit 
of the world, if we could get at their real thoughts. The vulgar in 
their inmost souls admire nothing but the vulgar ; the common-place 
admire nothing but the common-place; the superficial nothing but the 
superficial. How should it be otherwise ? The rest is cant and 
affectation : and as to those who know better and have pretensions 
themselves, they are actuated by envy and malice, or some pre* 
conceived theory of their own. Instead of a great actor, for instance, 
they are looking for a bat and feather, are disappointed at not finding 
what they fondly expect, and more disappointed still at coming in 
collision with a power that shocks all their previous sympathies, 
rules, and delinitions. Let a great man 'fall into misfortune* (like 
Captain Afacheath) and then you discover the real dispositions of the 
reading, seeing, believing, loving public towards tlieir pretended idol. 
Sec how they set upon him the moment he is down, how they watcli 
for the smallest slip, the first pretext to pick a quarrel with him, how 
slow they are to acknowledge worth, how ihey never forgive an 
error, how they trample upon and tear *to tatters, to very rags,' the 
common frailties, how they overlook and malign the tranacendant 

3+9 



ACTORS AND THE PUBLIC 

CXceUence which they can neither reach nor find a subititute for ! 
Who has praised Sir Walter, who has not had a ftng at him, since 
he lost all that he was worth i Oh ! if he would but write the 
■ Life of George iv. ! ' Who that had felt Kean's immeasurable 
superiority in Oihello^ was not glad to sec him brought to the ordinary 
level in a vulgar cr'im, con ? No : a man of true genius and common 
observation, instead of being disappointed at not carrying the prize by 
acclamation, and exciting gratitude equal to ihr pleasure he gives, 
ought to be thankful that he is not hooted from the stage, and torn in 
pieces by the rabble, as soon as he quits his lair of solitary obscurity. 
Every man of that sort is assuredly looked upon by the vulgar as 
having dealings with the devil, because they do not see * the spells* 
the mighty magic he hath used,' and they would make an auto-da-Je 
of him if they durst^ as they formerly burnt a witch ! They contrive 
to torture him enough, as it is. What was it made men bum 
astrologers and alchemists in former tiraeti, but the sense of power 
and knowledge which the illiterate hind did not possess? Are the 
rra(fing dilferent from the unreading public ? Believe it not. But 
this power was supposed to be exercised for evil purposes, whereas 
genius has a beneficial influence. That doubles the obligation, and 
fixes the ingratitude. The critical public view tlic appearance of an 
original mind with the sidelong glances and the doux yeux with which 
the animals at Exeter- 'Change regard the strange visitants ; but if any 
one trusting to the amiable looks and playful gambols of the one or 
the other opens the door of his own folly to let them out, he will 
soon see how it will fare with him. There are a million of people 
in this single metropolis, each of whom would willingly stand on the 
pedestal which you occupy. Will they forgive you for thrusting 
them from their place, or not triumph if they see you totter ? Beware 
how you climb the slippery ascent ; do not neglect your footing whes 
you are there. Such is the natural feeling; and then comes the 
philosophical critic, and tells you with a face of lead and brass that 
* no more indulgence is to be shewn to the indiscretions of a man of 
genius than to any other! ' What! you make him drunk and mad 
with applause and then blame him for not being sober, you lift him to 
a pinnacle, and then say he is not to be giddy, you own he is to be a 
creature of impulse, and yet you would regulate him like a machine, 
you expect him to be all fire and air, to wing the empyrean, and to 
uke you with him, and yet you would have him a muck-worm 
crawling the earth 1 But it is a Scotch critic who says this — let us 
pass on. If an actor is indeed six feet high, with a face like a paste- 
board mask, he may pass in the crowd and will have the mob on his 
side ; but if he can only boast 
350 



ACTORS AND THE PUBLIC 

'The fiery soul, that working out its way, 
Fretted the pigmy body to decay. 
And o'er informed the teoetntnt of day * — 

he stands in etjoal peril of the unthinking many, and the fastidious 
few. Or, if an actress is a foreigner, she may escape 'the envy of 
less happier lands,* and be encouraged as a luxury for the great— be 
wafted to us on a name, and cake back with her our eighs and tears. 
Yet how frail is the tenure of fashion ! Where is Madame Catalani 
now i Where does the siren's voice flutter in the sunshine of her 
smiles ? — 

It was some time since wc had seen Mr. Kean's Shyioci. Fourteen 
years ago we were desired to go and see a young actor from the 
country attempt the pan at Drury-lane ; and, as was expected, add 
another to the list of failures. When we got there, there were about 
6fty people in the pit, and there was that sense of previous damnation 
which a thin house inspires. When the new candidate came on, 
there was a lightness in his step, an airy buoyancy and self-possession 
different from the sullen, dogg«l, gaol-thlivery look of the traditional 
Shyloch of the stage. A Tague expectation was excited, and all went 
on well ; but it was not till he came to the part, when leaning on his 
staff, he tells the talc of Jacob and his flock with the garrulous case 
of old age and an animation of spirit, that seems borne back to the 
olden time, and to the prtrileged example in which he exulu, that it 
was plain that a man of genius had lighted on the stage. To those 
who had the spirit and candour to hail the lucky omen, the recollec- 
tion of that moment of startling, yet welcome surprise, will always be 
a proud and satisfactory one. We wished to see after a lapse of time 
and other changes, whether this first impression would still keep 
•true touch,' and wc find no difference. Besides the excellence of 
the impassioned parts of Mr. Kean's acting, there is a flexibility 
and inaeflniteness of outHoc about it, like a £gure with a landscape 
back-grouixl — he is in Venice with his money-bags, his daughter and 
his injuries, but his thoughts take wing to the Hast, his voice swells 
and deepens at the mention of his sacred tribe and ancient law, and 
he dwells delighted on any digression to distant times and places, as 
a relief to his vindictive and rooted purposes. Of all Mr. Kean's 
performances, we think this the most faultless and least manneredt 
always excepting his OthtUo^ which is equally perfect and twenty 
times more powerful. Mr. Kean succeeded so well in this part in 
which he came out, that with the diflfidcncc of the abilities of others 
so natural to us, it was concluded by the managers he could do 
nothing else, and he was kept in it so long that he had nearly failed 

35 < 




FRENCH PLAYS 

in Richard, all the during scene bore down all oppo&iuoD by « 
withenng spell, and as if a preternatural being had visibly taken 
possession of his rorm, and made the enthusiasm the greater from tiie 
tmccrtainty that had before prevailed. The Sir Giles Ovtrrtach 
stamped him with the players and the town, and Othello with the 
critics. He who has done a single thing that others never forget, 
and feel ennobled whenever they think of, need not regret his having 
been, and may throw aside this fleshly coil, like any other wom-oat 
port, grateful and contented ! 



FRENCH PLAYS 

7At Bx*miHtr.'\ {I4m<k x% iSat.' 

MoNsiEUH Perxbt is certainly a pearl of an actor. He docs every 
part welt, and every part varied from another. He is, however, a 
jewel set in lead: the rest of the company to which he belongs arc 
out indifferent. He is exactly what a London jtar^ engaged for a 
few nights to gratify the * upturned eyes of wondering audience*,* is 
in a tattered troop of country-actors. Those who fancy that they see 
here a thorough sample of French acting, the elite of the capital of 
ciriliscd society, arc mistaken ; and we perhaps should not undeceive 
them, but that we can assure them that they have a pleasure to come, 
something to look forward to, and something to look back upon, and 
which (we believe) can be found only at Paris. Oh ! Paris, thou 
hast the Louvre, the garden of the Thuillerics, and the Theatre 
fratifau ; Madame Pasta we share by turns with you, as the sun 
sheds its light on either world — the rest is barbarous and common. 
A friend of ours once received a letter from a friend of his, dated 
RoMF-, with three marks of admiration after it, which he answered 
by writing London-, with four marks of admiration after it: 'and 
why shouldn't he, since we had St. PauKs, the Cartoons, the Elgin 
Marbles, and the Bridges?' As to the three first, they were not 
ours; and as to the fourth, the reasoning puts me a little in mind of 
Sir William Curtis*s, who remarked that *it was very good of God, 
that wherever there was a great city, he had made a nver by the side 
of it ! ' There was another proud distinction, which our patriotic 
friend did not enumerate, though it was a thumping make-weight in 
the scale, and might have claimed a fifth mark of admiration, which 
was, that he himself was there. This is the triumphant argument in 
every Englishman's imagination, — wherever he is, is the centre of 
gravity -, whatever he calls his own, is the standard of excellence. 
It is our desire to shake off this feeling as much as possible that 
35* 



FRENCH PLAYS 



I 



makes ui frequent the theatre at the KngUnh Opera-houae, and try (all 
we can) to "leave our couotry and oursekes* at the door. Why id 
truth should an English Nobleman be convinced in himseJf and spealc 
upon that conTiction in his place in Parliament, thai because he keepf 
ft French cook, the French have no genius for anything but cookery ? 
Or why, my dear Madam, should you have taken it in your head, 
that because you wear a French bonnet, there is nothing in Paris but 
milliners' girls who are no better than they should be ? Nay, that ii 
what you really imagine, however you may deny it — but be assured, 
good, gentle, honest, reflecting reader of either »ex, who feel your 
own existence so solid that every thing else is a fable to it, or your 
own virtue so clear that everything else is a spot to it, that there are 
things out of England besides what are imported into it — that French 
women not only make caps and bonnets, but wear them with a 
peculiar grace; that ihcy have eyes glancing from under them full of 
fire and discretion ; that they do not make a false step at every turn, 
though they do not walk like Englishwomen, that is, as if their limbs 
were an incumbrance to them ; that the Chamber of Deputies think 
your Lordship's speeches dry and tasteless, for want of a little French 
seaaooing; that there are cities not built of bricks, faces not made of 
dough, a language that has a mcaoing though it is not ours, and virtue 
that is neither a statue nor a mask! For instance, we think good- ^ 
manners is one part of ethics, and we do wish en passant that our line 
gentlemen at the play would not loll on their seats, whistle, and 
thrust their sticks nearly in your face to show their superiority to the 
vulgar ; and that those of the other sex, who are admitted on their 
good behaviour could be prevailed on not to talk and laugh so loud, 
not to nod or wink, not to slap their acquaintance on the back, or 
shut the doors with such violence after them, to attract admirers and 
shew an independent spirit. Strange that the English notion of inde- 
pendence consists in giving offence to and displaying your contempt 
for others! They order these things better in France, where they 
consult decency of appearance at least, and Venus is a prude in public 
— not a hoyden or a bully ! 

* Our Cupid is a blackguard boy, 
That thru!it« hi» link in every face/ 

This brings us back to the French Theatre. As we do not 
approve every thing foreign or French, we are more bound to 
acknowledge and do justice to what we do like. Imprimis, we abhor ; 
French pictures. In the second place, we tolerate French tragedy. 
Thirdly, we adore French comedy. The characteristic of this in ita 
best state, and as compared with our utmost efforts in the same line, \ 

vou XI. xz 353 



FRENCH PLAYS 



IB, that it is equally^ perfect throughout ; aod as that great philosopher 

of idleness (Mr. Coleridge) ODce wisely and witti